Eutelsat and SES settle dispute at 28.5° East

Satellite operators Eutelsat and SES have settled their long-running dispute over the allocation of frequencies at the 28.5° East orbital position, used to serve the UK market alongside SES’s established 28.2° East position.

The pair have concluded three key agreements including a comprehensive settlement of legal proceedings over rights at the orbital slot.

One agreement ends the arbitral procedure between Eutelsat and SES that was started in October 2012 under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris concerning rights to 500MHz spectrum at the position. Eutelsat ceased to operate this spectrum on October 3 2013 and SES has operated this spectrum since that date. Under the latest agreement, SES will continue to operate its satellites at this location.

Under a second agreement, Eutelsat will contract from SES eight transponders, or 125MHz, of the previously disputed 500MHz in addition to 12 transponders, or 250MHz, that was not previously subject to legal proceedings.

The 20 transponders will be operated on three new satellites which SES is deploying at 28.2/28.5° East – Astra 2F, Astra 2E and Astra 2G – of which the first two have been launched and are operational, while the third is planned for launch for later this year.

The third agreement addresses technical frequency coordination between the pair under the rules of the International Telecommunication Union.

Eutelsat said that it expected a negative impact on its revenues for the 2013-14 financial year of about €5 million. It said there would be no impact on revenues in the two following years.

“Guided by key objectives to deliver clients impeccable service and to optimise spectrum use, Eutelsat and SES have taken a pragmatic and business-like approach to reaching this settlement. These long-term agreements clarify the conditions for interference-free operations, enabling each company to independently expand its commercial activity in a competitive environment. Eutelsat is committed to delivering innovative services at one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in the broadcasting market and can now further improve the productivity of its in-orbit resources and future investments,” said Michel de Rosen, chairman and CEO of Eutelsat.

“The agreements with Eutelsat create a secure framework for operations in major broadcasting and data markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa”, said Romain Bausch, president and CEO of SES. “They are beneficial for our whole industry and, above all, for our customers and end users as they experience optimal satellite services. The agreements allow SES to fully leverage its satellite and fleet investments and operate its assets and frequency spectrum efficiently. We can focus on further commercialising our satellite capacity and ensuring excellent services for customers and users worldwide.”