| The launch of the Ariane 5 rocket carrying a TV satellite for India and a military satellite for Britain at Kourou space centre, French Guiana. (AFP)
New Delhi, March 12: India’s Insat-4B satellite, which rode into space on Europe’s Ariane launch vehicle today, promises to boost Doordarshan’s free-to-air direct-to-home (DTH) television services and allow viewers in the Northeast and the south to switch to smaller antennae.
The 3,025-kg Insat-4B — equipped with 12 high-power Ku-band transponders and 13 C-band transponders — will make available extra capacity and higher power for DTH television services, Isro engineers said.
“The majority of the transponders on Insat-4B are intended for Doordarshan’s DTH services, but some transponder capacity may be given to another private player,” an Isro official told The Telegraph.
Prasar Bharati officials said Insat-4B is expected to help Doordarshan shift its DTH services from a foreign satellite — New Skies Satellite-6 — to an indigenous satellite.
In addition to Doordarshan’s DTH, consumers today have a choice of two other paid DTH services — TataSky and DishTV.
The transponders that Doordarshan is likely to be allocated on Insat-4B also have higher power than the ones it uses currently on the foreign satellite, the officials said.
“Higher power transponders will mean our viewers in the Northeast and southern India will be able to receive channels through smaller antennae,” a Prasar Bharti official told The Telegraph.
Consumers in the Northeast and southern parts of India now have to rely on large 1.2-metre diameter antennae.
Once Doordarshan’s DTH services migrate to Insat-4B, viewers in these regions will pick up signals with a 0.6 metre antennae.
“The large antennae need to be mounted on rooftops or on the ground. The smaller ones can be put up on balconies or even on walls,” the official said.
Twenty-nine minutes after lift-off aboard the Ariane launch vehicle from a spaceport in French Guiana at 3.33 am this morning, India’s satellite control centre in Hassan, Karnataka, acquired signals from Insat-4B and issued commands to nudge its earth-viewing face to orient itself towards the earth.
In the coming days, Isro engineers will set off a series of high precision firings of onboard rockets to guide Insat-4B towards its final parking slot in space, at 93.5 degrees E longitude, close to Insat-3A.
Insat-4B is identical to Insat-4A that was launched by Ariane in December 2005. Television operators have long been waiting for a new satellite.
India had lost Insat-4C in the Bay of Bengal when an indigenous launch vehicle flight had failed last year.
A Prasar Bharati official said Doordarshan now offers 36 channels, including 20 of its own channels. “But at least 50 more channels want to be on the DD platform,” he said.