On April 4–5 the 12th annual conference of operators and users of the Russian Federation satellite telecommunications network took place in Dubna.

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This forum was arranged by the state operator of satellite communications – the Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC). The conference is being held annually in the near Moscow town of Dubna where the Dubna Satellite Communications Center (RSCC’ branch) - the largest teleport in Russia and eastern Europe - is situated.

During many years the Dubna conference became the major event in the Russia’s satellite communications industry, the place of a vivid dialog between the market participants, including satellite operators, broadcasters, system integrators, providers and service consumers, manufacturers and equipment suppliers. This year more than 300 representatives of companies from 11 countries worldwide took part in the Conference.

While opening the Conference the Deputy director of the Federal Communications Agency Mr. Bulancha noted that the key factor of the industry development in Russia is the national project Education, according to which 12 000 VSAT stations are planned to be deployed till the turn of the year to provide Internet access for Russian schools. The same quantity of terminals are scheduled to be put into service in the nearest time to provide universal communications services (i.e. voice communication by payphones and Internet access to all users inside the country). In addition, the industry faces the challenge of providing each Russian inhabited locality with telephony till 2015, therefore Rossvyaz plans holding the second round of the tender for the universal service to equip of about 12 thousand build-up areas with VSAT stations.

Owing to implementation of the Federal national projects in the field of developing information communications infrastructure, increasing the number of TV&Radio programs and developing regional TV as well as improving technologies and decreasing the equipment costs the satellite communications market of Russia is now under an active development. A demand for orbital and frequency resource remains very high. RSCC’ Acting Director General Yuri Izmailov told the Conference participants about the program of top-priority launches intended to satisfy high requirements of the users for satellite capacity as well as about the plans of the satellite constellation development till 2015. “In order to meet the top-priority challenges to offset the shortage in satellite capacity in central and western regions of the Russian Federation the Express-AM33 satellite (96.50 E) is scheduled for launch in September 2007 and the Express-AM44 (110 W) is planned to be launched together with the Express-MD1 satellite in December 2007”. The next stage of development is introduction of additional satellite capacity in the central and eastern parts of the RSCC’ orbital arc after planned delivering into orbit the Express-AM4 and Express-MD2 satellites in 2008. Besides, RSCC is now working on the project of launching 3 Express-RV direct radio broadcasting spacecraft that will provide the regions beyond the reach of geostationary satellites with state TV&Radio programs as well as a direct uninterrupted and round- the-clock program delivery to any point of Russia. RSCC considers it necessary to strengthen the central part of the orbital arc using two powerful satellites of the Express-AMU series and to replace the working DTH broadcasting spacecraft with the Express-AT satellites. The program envisages widening the service areas of the Russian satellites at 30 W and 1750  E. The RSCC’ satellite constellation will enable a mutual backup of spacecraft on the whole orbital arc and secure the development and operation of satellite communications systems and TV&Radio broadcasting over the whole territory of Russia including its northern territories as well as to strengthen and expand Russia’s positions on the international satellite communications market by 2015.”

Igor Zabolotny, RSCC’ Deputy Director General of business development stressed that the satellite communications consumer structure in Russia has significantly changed within the last two – three years: the TV&Radio broadcasting service share has increased to 35% in RSCC’ backlog. RSCC’s satellites ensure broadcasting of more than 115 Russian and foreign TV&Radio channels on the territory from America to Australia, with Russian Federal TV&Radio program package being the most important. Network development for corporate customers and operators made up about 30% of services, 20% fall to the share of Internet-services. Due to successful implementation of the satellite constellation renovation program within 2001 – 2005 the positions of Russia on the international market have significantly consolidated: the foreign customers consume 48% of the total volume of RSCC’s services. The fill rate of the Express-AM series satellites reached 90% during 2 -3 years of commercial operation  allowing RSCC to set up optimistic business plans on service realization by means of the new Express-AM33 and Express-AM44 spacecraft. The new spacecraft will be put into service at orbital slots 96.50 East and 110 West and are intended to provide broadcasting services first of all in Russia and to strengthen RSCC’ positions in the countries of Eastern and South –Eastern Asia, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

In the course of the Dubna conference the issues of developing the high-definition TV (HDTV) in Russia were touched upon as well as introducing the new MPEG-4 standard. On the basis of the Shabolovka technical center in Moscow the host compression system station MPEG-4/AVC has been  established which enables combined with DVB-S2 standard a minimum threefold efficiency increase of the frequency resource using. Since October 2006 the test transmission of a digital package in MPEG-4 standard has been conducted via the Express-AM1 satellite. This package includes the programs of Russian federal and commercial TV channels. Of a great importance for HDTV development will be the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing which transmission to Russia and CIS is being prepared by RSCC jointly with Chinese partners. The transmissions are planned to be performed through the Express-AM33 satellite both in standard digital and in high-definition formats.

A great attention was paid in the conference to the regional satellite TV development trends: according to experts’ assessments 15 regional satellite networks were deployed and put into service in Russia only in 2006. The satellite broadcasting is often not just optimum but the only way of delivering regional programs to digital on-air broadcasting networks. At present, about 60 regional satellite TV channels are broadcasted in 49 regions of RF. In the current year deployment of satellite TV networks is planned in 7-8 regions.

In summing up, the conference participants were unanimous in their assessments, i.e. increasing the orbital resource will promote the further development of digital TV&Radio broadcasting in Russia, establishment of corporate multi-service networks, providing out-of-the-way places with telephony and broadband Internet as well as creating necessary conditions for distribution of new services: HD TV, video-on-demand, DTH radio broadcasting.