New SES Americom Satellite Now Operational

AMC-21 bird handles PBS program distribution.

Satellite operator SES Americom announced Monday that its newest satellite, AMC-21, is now fully operational and is delivering both video and data for broadcasters and broadband service providers, including anchor tenant PBS.

PBS, which signed a ten-year deal with SES Americom in 2006 for Ku-band capacity on four satellites, has transitioned its complete programming lineup to AMC-21 as part of its Next Generation Interconnection System (NGIS).  It is now using the high-powered Ku-band bird to distribute both high-definition and SD content to some 356 public television stations. Primary PBS content delivery was provided by AMC-1 and AMC-3 satellites prior to AMC-21.

“PBS has relied on SES AMERICOM’s proven distribution systems and expertise for years,” said John McCoskey, PBS’s chief technology officer, in a statement. “We are pleased to continue our relationship through the consolidation of public television content distribution on the new AMC-21 satellite.”

Other customers for the AMC-21 bird, which features particularly good coverage over the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, include maritime broadband users, oil and gas companies, and the U.S. government.

The increase in high-definition programming, particularly coverage of sports like college football, continues to drive SES Americom’s business, says Bryan McGuirk, president of media services for SES AMERICOM, which is also transitioning all of Showtime’s program distribution to HD this fall.

SES Americom operates 15 satellite domestically and is part of global satellite giant SES, which has 39 satellites overall. McGuirk says that SES is continuing to grow, and notes that it has eight new satellites under construction today.

“That’s just as important as what you have in the air today,” says McGuirk of the construction pipeline. “We believe we’re a growth industry, as nobody can deliver multipoint HD like satellite.”