CAIRO: Egypt will launch its latest satellite, Nilesat 201, on Wednesday from French Guiana.
The launch is a “breakthrough for Egypt in the field of information technology,” said Minister of Information, Anas El-Fiqi.
“With the launch of [its] third satellite, Egypt is breaking through into the future and this is another one of its technological initiatives aligning it with … global developments in space,” said El-Fiqi, according to official news portal, egynews.net.
Nilesat 201 will enable the Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat to deliver digital “Direct to Home” (DTH) TV and radio broadcasting and high-speed data transmission services to North Africa and the Middle East starting September 2010, explained a press statement by Thales Alenia Space, a European leader in satellite systems which built the new satellite.
Nilesat 201 will also “[give] Africa access to advanced communications and information technologies, in particular rural telephony,” the statement noted.
The new second generation satellite has an operational lifespan of 15 years and will provide its customers with high definition (HD) channels.
El-Fiqi had announced in press reports the new satellite will be launched with an international celebration on French territory, describing it as the “culmination of an important phase in […] Egyptian-French cooperation in the field of communication technology.”
Nilesat 201 will be able to broadcast Internet Protocol television (IPTV) and HDTV.
“The most important element is that we are looking for new opportunities, and HDTV and IPTV both represent excellent opportunities. We see progress being made in both the pay-TV and free-to-air sectors,” said chief technology officer of Nilesat, Salah Hamza.
This will be Egypt’s third satellite, making it the only country in Africa and the Arab world with three satellites in space. The country’s first satellite was launched in 1998, while the second was launched in 2000, together broadcasting more than 300 radio and television channels.