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Operational life of INSAT-2E draws to a close

India's INSAT-2E satellite has reached the end of its 12 year orbital lifespan, and both regional and national broadcasters are scrambling for transponder space on alternative payloads, according to Financial Express.

The satellite, operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), was launched in April 1999. It reportedly transmits, among others, 11 channels for Raj TV, 10 of Star India's southern channels including Asianet and Star Vijay, six NE TV Assamese channels, TV9, Aakash Bangla, Doordarshan National, and UTV Bloomberg.

While India's private broadcasters are required to obtain clearance from ISRO when migrating to a satellite owned by a foreign entity, the Financial Express reports this stipulation has been waived in order for the channels to swiftly find a new home in space.

ABS-1, Eutelsat, Thiacom, Intelsat, Measat, Asiasat, and SES-7 (which carries Airtel Digital's DTH channels) all provide C-band coverage of the Indian subcontinent.

ISRO have been facing some capacity issues since the failure at launch of INSAT-4C in 2006. The following year, the replacement satellite INSAT-4CR also experienced partial launch failure, leading to a delay in its life span by five years given the extra fuel burnt to propel it to the correct geostationary orbital position.

In July 2010, a power problem hit operations of INSAT 4B located at 93.5 degrees East, which broadcasts the state Doordarshan Direct and private Sun TV DTH bouquets, among other services.

"Power was not flowing from one of the solar panels which required half of the payload to be switched off. The satellite remains in a precarious position," a technical executive of a major DTH operator is quoted as saying in Financial Express.

ISRO has not yet issued a comment about the current transponder capacity challenges facing India's DTH broadcasters, although foreign satellite operators may yet be eyeing an increased opportunity in the region.

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