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Satnews Daily
January 2nd, 2017

India Rent-A-Satellite... Shortage Of Satellites

Apparently, there's a shortage of communication satellites for use over India, which is forcing the ISRO to hunt down the lease of an on orbit satellite with Ku-band transponders from a non-indigenous source.

The lease of partial capacity on foreign satellites is not unusual for the agency, where the capacity is then used for DTH operators by Indian media firms. A lease would be for two or three years and the ISRO had issued an RFP last month for an exiting geostationary vehicle, or one that would be launched this year, to ease their coverage situation.

Currently, the ISRO has about a dozen communication satellites on orbit. As per a 2015 estimate, a third of the 286 satellite transponders in use was non-Indian in nature. According to the ISRO, five new communication satellites will be launched this year, which will definitely improve capacity needs. One of these satellites in the first HTS for India that will bring Internet connectivity to users.

Purchasing a non-indigenous satellite has occurred previously—Arabsat-1C was acquired from Saudi Arabia to handle a coverage shortfall when India's INSAT-2D ceased to function in 1997.

In order to bring reasonable service to India, the ISRO has indicated they need to double the number of spacecraft they have on order, and the agency is already planning for 12 to 18 satellite launches each year.