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New RASCOM and NILESAT communication satellites to boost connectivity in Africa and the Middle East
Dr Hamadoun Touré
photo credit: Arianespace
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré at the Kourou Spaceport in French Guiana on 4 August 2010, just ahead of the launch of the RASCOM-QAF1R and NILESAT 201 communication satellites into orbit

On 4 August 2010, ITU hailed a new era of pan-regional connectivity with the successful launch of the RASCOM-QAF1R and NILESAT 201 communication satellites. Launched on board an Ariane 5 vehicle from the Kourou Spaceport in French Guiana, the new satellites will enhance access to a wide range of information and communication technology (ICT) services for millions in Africa and the Middle East.

In addition to providing access to the ICT services needed by businesses to compete in today’s global markets, the new systems will deliver broadcast news and entertainment. They will also serve as a platform for new applications in such areas as distance education and telemedicine, which will be vital to improving the lives of local people and helping governments achieve the Millennium Development Goals, now just five years away.

Speaking from Kourou where he attended the launch, Dr Touré said: “The launch of state-of-the-art satellite systems has been a long and much cherished dream for the region and its people. This launch represents another major milestone in getting the region’s communities better connected. In addition to providing low-cost international connections between African countries and connecting isolated villages via low-cost terminals, the RASCOM-QAF1R will provide direct television and radio broadcasting services, Internet access and value-added broadband services. NILESAT for its part will bring subscribers instantaneous access to news, information and entertainment, as well as the high-speed data — the cornerstone of modern life. The launch of these two systems represents another huge step forward in bridging the digital divide, and reinforces the importance of making new technologies such as broadband accessible to all the world’s people.”

The RASCOM and NILESAT 201 satellites were stacked one on top of the other in the Ariane 5’s dual payload dispenser system. To be deployed first during the flight sequence, NILESAT 201 is fitted with 24 Ku-band and 4 Ka-band transponders. It will be positioned at an orbital slot of 7 degrees west, delivering digital direct-to-home television and radio broadcasting to the Middle East and North Africa from September 2010.

The second in the launcher payload “stack”, situated just above the launch vehicle’s core stage, the RASCOM-QAF1R system will be positioned at an orbital slot of 2.85 degrees east, and will ensure service continuity for the RascomStar-QAF operator and its customers, providing Africans in 45 countries with access to advanced communications and information technologies, and in particular rural telephony. Equipped with 24 equivalent 36 MHz transponders in both Ku-band and C-band, its footprint covers the entire African continent, as well as parts of Europe and the Middle East.


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