Americom applies for new satellite platform


Satellite provider SES Americom has filed a petition with the Federal
Communications Commission to deploy a satellite (to 105.5 degrees West) that
could be used as a platform for DBS services that could compete with EchoStar
Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. (or EchoStar/DirecTV if their merger is

The big question is whether the FCC will allow for changes in DBS spacing.
Current spacing between EchoStar and DirecTV is 9 degrees. This satellite would
sit right in the middle, cutting that spacing to 4.5 degrees. Olmstead says
interference tests show that interference won't be a problem.

Parent company SES Global has a platform in Europe called SES Astra, which
satellite services use to reach 30 million homes. SES Astra provides the
satellites that Canal Plus and News Corp.'s BSkyB, use, among others.

"It will be our customers who have to describe the model that their economics
would be analogous to," says SES Americom President and CEO Dean Olmstead. "Give
us a little time until we get the first customer on board and we'll let that
customer comment about the economics of the marketplace for