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Intelsat Plans Landmark African Satellite Launch

Satellite services provider Intelsat is planning to deploy Africa's first private sector communications satellite, with its New Dawn satellite on schedule for a March 29, 2011 launch from French Guiana.

The satellite is a joint venture between a consortium led by Convergence Partners and Intelsat and is expected to go into service in the second quarter of 2011.

New Dawn's 28 C-band and 24 Ku-band 36 MHz transponder units will operate from a geostationary orbital slot of 32.8 degrees East and are specifically designed to deliver wireless backhaul, broadband and media content--the fastest growing satellite-based applications in Africa.

Delivered on time and within the originally announced $250 million budget, the Intelsat New Dawn venture has been approximately 90% funded from African sources.

"With a launch slot secured for Intelsat New Dawn, we are now on the cusp of seeing this landmark venture become a reality," noted Andile Ngcaba, chairman of Convergence Partners in a statement. "The project has been in development for five years, with the last two-and-a-half focusing on construction. When launched, the satellite will not only deliver crucial services specifically tailored for Africa, it will also herald the dawn of a new era where Africans enjoy far greater involvement in the space communications industry."

Commissioned in December 2008 and built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, the hybrid C-band/Ku-band satellite will be operated and marketed as a part of the global Intelsat fleet. It will be 22nd Intelsat bird serving Africa.