Sunday, May 9, 2010


History of rapid growth and the move into digital

SES was formed on the initiative and support of the Luxembourg

Government in 1985 as Société Européenne des Satellites (SES). The

Luxembourg State remains a major shareholder. As Europe's first private

satellite operator, SES launched ASTRA 1A, its first satellite, in 1988.

ASTRA 1A entered service at the orbital position 19.2° East in 1989.

Rupert Murdoch's SKY TV, along with German broadcasters Pro7, Sat. 1,

and RTL were among ASTRA's first major customers.

In 1990, ASTRA was already broadcasting to 14 million cable and directto-

home (DTH) viewers. SES ASTRA was the pioneer of 'co-location' by

which several satellites share the same orbital position. This had never

been done before, so that SES had to develop its own software and

technology to control and manage multiple satellites within close proximity

to each other. Co-location generated the capacity that attracted dozens of

channels to a single orbital location, creating what became known as the

'satellite neighborhood' concept that would drive SES growth for the next

two decades and be copied by rivals like Eutelsat. A greater selection of

channels at one orbital position attracts viewers to point their dishes at

that slot, which in turn attracts more broadcasters and hence more

viewers. ASTRA's prime slots, such as 19.2 east, have seen as many as

eight satellites sharing the same position at one time. Co-location also

helped build up ASTRA's reputation for outstanding reliability based on the

strength in depth of its fleet. Today, SES boasts network availability levels

of 99.999%. Till 2005 SES has become fully digital.

The acquisition of a 34.1% stake in AsiaSat in 1998 began a period of

ambitious global expansion beyond SES' European home market that

would lead to the formation of SES GLOBAL in 2001, renamed SES in

2006.This geographic expansion went hand in hand with the diversification

of SES' product offering into a range of satellite services, including

technical consultancy, satellite reception and distribution services,

government and military communications and more recently a range of

mobile and multimedia and internet services, such as IP-PRIME in the U.S.

and ASTRA2Connect in Europe.

In 2000, SES acquired a 50% stake in the Scandinavian satellite


(6) of (6)

broadcaster Nordic Satellite AB (NSAB), later renamed SES SIRIUS, which

strengthened SES' coverage in northern and Eastern Europe. In 2001, SES

completed the acquisition of GE AMERICOM resulting in the formation of

SES GLOBAL comprising two operating companies, SES ASTRA and SES

AMERICOM. Altogether, SES now operated a fleet of 41 satellites, the

largest in the world at the time.

Further acquisitions followed in 2006 and included New Skies, later

renamed SES NEW SKIES, which added six satellites to the SES fleet and

strengthened its coverage in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. SES also

took a 100% stake in ND SatCom a German provider of government

services. In December 2006, SES GLOBAL was renamed SES.

In March 2007, SES bought back all of GE's shares and participations in

AMERICOM as part of a complex divestiture transaction agreement. As

part of the deal, SES divested certain assets, including AsiaSat as well Star

One, SATLYNX and a spacecraft over the Pacific Ocean. GE is obligated to

hold the spacecraft asset until 2012.

SES ASTRA grew its stake in SES SIRIUS to 90% in 2008. In June 2008,

SES ASTRA and competitor Eutelsat set up the joint venture Solaris

Mobile. Solaris Mobile will deliver media services to mobile and handheld

devices via a satellite to be launched in 2009. In July 2008, SES

announced the merger of its two in00000ternational operating units, SES

AMERICOM and SES NEW SKIES into a 'new segment' under Rob Bednarek

as President and CEO. As the organizations consolidated, the IP-PRIME

service, an IPTV service, was shut down completely. The new segment was

re-branded as SES WORLD SKIES on 7 September 2009.

SES services

Through its operating companies and participations, SES provides satellite

transmission capacity and related services to media broadcasters,

businesses as well for civil government and military communications. SES

satellites transmit a variety of formats from radio to High Definition TV,

(HDTV) in MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. SES has been a major player in the

development of the direct-to-home market in Europe and the IPTV

market in the U.S. In Europe, SES ASTRA pioneered the introduction of

HDTV and has been instrumental in defining HDTV standards with the HD

ready label. In the U.S., SES AMERICOM provides cable-feed services as

well as IP-PRIME, an MPEG-4 based IPTV platform that allows users to

access TV services, including HDTV channels, via the internet.

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