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New Nilesat offers IPTV to Mid-East
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New Nilesat offers IPTV to Mid-East - 23-April-2009, 12:20

Nilesat offers IPTV to Mid-East

Chris Forrester

Everything is on schedule for a June 2010 launch of Nilesat 201, says Nilesats chief engineer Salah Hamza. We have good co-operation from Thales to bring it in on time. Arianespace is also being very co-operative. Capacity sales are progressing well, and we now have an agreement in place with Eutelsat to help [the sales effort] and this makes our life easier.

Hamza explains that since last November Nilesat itself has had zero surplus capacity to offer clients. The incoming extra capacity will be marketed by ourselves. If you look to what we have available to us today, we are using 20 transponders from Eutelsat, part of this number are newly-released. But Nilesat 201 will have 24 transponders, a portion of which is replacement capacity as well as back-up. In the meantime we do not have frequency rights to add capacity, so the only alternative is to use Eutelsat capacity. Eutelsat, as they have announced will launch a new satellite for the area which will replace Hot Bird 10 which is designed for the Middle East. We are partners, but without a partnership agreement, and we are both working hard on this project.

Hamza brought us up to date on HDTV for the region, saying that during last months Dubai CabSat show a scheme was agreed between some major local broadcasters to see mainstream HDTV content made available. Dream Channel is playing out an HD demo channel, and we are transmitting it in high-def. Also Showtime Arabia, ART and Egypt TV are co-operating on a promo channel as a pilot project in HD. We have given this bandwidth free of charge, and hopefully consumers will see demonstrations of this in the shops, and understand what HD is all about. Once it is started we hope this will break the stalemate, and boost interest in HD. The channel should be on air within the next two months. Incidentally, we are building a new play-out centre for HDTV at our 6th October City, Cairo facility.

We are also looking to IPTV. We see Dubai as being a customer, and Sheikh Salah Kamel (of Arab Radio & Television) already has his own IPTV service. He is giving this to remote areas, and resorts. But what we are thinking is that IPTV could provide a home for special services, niche offerings. What we will introduce is the main distribution format, and then leave it to others for the final distribution. We will introduce ideas to broadcasters and would-be broadcasters. Our IPTV will not look like DTH. We can play-out from Cairo, from Amman and Dubai.
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