Video: Minister On Bermuda’s Satellite Network

June 1, 2013

Barring any unforeseen problems, by mid-July Bermuda’s satellite will become a commercially viable asset, allowing the island to participate in the more than $80 billion-a-year broadcast satellite industry, Minister of Economic Development Dr Grant Gibbons said at a press conference yesterday [May 31].

Dr Gibbons said, “Earlier today in the House of Assembly, I was pleased to inform Honourable Members of a significant milestone in Bermuda’s efforts to develop a commercial satellite network.

“On April 13th 2013 Bermuda’s planned satellite network, known as BermudaSat-1, commenced operations after the EchoStar-6 satellite was moved into Bermuda’s orbital position located at 96.2° West Longitude.

“This was the key step in a multi-year effort to develop Bermuda’s space industry – and we managed to get it done just in the nick of time,” said Dr Gibbons.

Dr Gibbons continued, “This has been a long journey. Bermuda’s first footsteps into the space industry were pioneered back in 1983, when the late Dr John Stubbs attended a conference held by the United Nations International Telecommunications Union [ITU].

“Due to his vision and advocacy, the ITU allocated four satellite orbital slots to Bermuda. The satellite slot located at 96.2˚ West Longitude was identified as the most commercially viable.

“In April 2005 Bermuda made an application to the ITU, via the UK Regulator OfCom, to activate the 96.2˚WL slot. Under international rules, once an application is made, a country then has eight years to bring its satellite network into use. In practical terms, this means that a fully operational satellite must be moved into that orbital slot and fulfil certain ITU requirements.

“Failure to ‘bring into use’ within the eight year window results in the expiration of the allowed period and the loss of any right to retain or commercialise the slot. Bermuda’s ITU deadline was eight years from April 2005 – in fact, April 14th 2013 to be precise.

“A previous attempt to bring this slot into use was hampered by an application submitted to the UK regulator OfCom by the Isle of Man for a similar orbital location. In April 2008 OfCom informed Bermuda that it would finalize the Isle of Man application at the ITU.

“Bermuda was opposed to this decision and applied for a judicial review. Although the High Court ruled in favour of OfCom, in 2010, the Isle of Man application expired, unused. We were determined not to allow Bermuda’s orbital slot to befall the same fate.

“Over the years, Bermuda has received a number of expressions of interest in commercializing our satellite allotment. In fact, SES, the world’s second largest operator, has been working with Bermuda to identify a suitable in-orbit satellite. In February of this year, SES did, indeed identify an in-orbit asset and this satellite is EchoStar-6.

“EchoStar-6 is owned and operated by EchoStar Satellite Operating Company under license from the US Federal Communications Commission [FCC]. The EchoStar Corporation, headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, is a premier global provider of satellite operations and video delivery solutions.

“Despite many prior years of frustration and considerable expense, this Government has now brought Bermuda’s satellite slot ‘into use’ and has plans for a satellite communication system as part of a wider effort to diversify the economy and develop Bermuda’s skills and economic base.

“Under ITU rules there is a mandatory 90 day waiting period during which the satellite must demonstrate that it is operationally viable. This means, barring any unforeseen problems, that by mid-July, the satellite deployed at 96.2˚ WL will become a commercially viable asset – and Bermuda’s 96.2˚ WL slot allocation will be officially confirmed by the ITU.

“With this, BermudaSat-1 will receive international recognition and protection through the ITU. This undertaking allows Bermuda to participate in the more than $80 billion-a-year broadcast satellite industry (television, radio and broadband), and positions it as a broadcast hub for the region.

“While the current plans are to offer maritime services and broadcast services in the Caribbean and Latin America, a specialized, more powerful satellite could also be built to expand services from this orbital position.

Dr Gibbons concluded, “Finally, it would be remiss of me not to express sincere gratitude for the diligent work of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Telecommunications, Government House and the Assistant Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for Policy.

“I would also like to thank the UK Embassy in Washington, DC and OfCom for their numerous submissions and their sustained and coordinated lobbying effort on Bermuda’s behalf with the FCC earlier this year.”

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Comments (16)

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  1. Standing on Transparency, Inclusiveness and Fairness says:



    • Zombie Apocalypse says:

      The PLP couldn’t make a penny out of the satellite business. No-one took them seriously. Now, with a new government, we can see some success.

    • George says:

      You’re a fool! Read the article or is reality/the truth/facts not part of your Modus operandi?

      This was the brainchild of Dr. John Stubbs under the UBP back in 1983 and has been on-going with successive Governments.

      The deadline to make this happen was almost missed because of inaction under the PLP’s watch – so tone down the back slapping, chest pumping and take a deep breath of reality – it will do your psyche much good!

    • DarkSideofTheMoon says:

      The PLP may have laid the ground work and the OBA is now completing the project. I am not an OBA fan AT ALL, but I will give credit were credit is due. They could have scrapped it, but they saw the benefits and I have to praise them for continuing this endeavour.

    • Concerned says:

      On December 18 there was nothing in place and all this started to get molded in February of this year. If under the PLP, April 14 would of come and gone, they have no one with proven business accomplishments. Name one besides the famous Zane DeSilva, thanks to his father. Well done Mr. Gibbons and the OBA team. We should start to see interest and movement towards investing in Bermuda again, something that the PLP drove away.

  2. My2Cents says:

    Why is it so difficult to give credit where credit is due? Surely, the PLP contributed to or did something to bring this into fruition as the OBA could not have made this happen in such a short period of time. I will do something unusual and give both the OBA and the PLP kudos for this.

    • media says:

      Don’t forget to give credit to the UBP while you are at it.

      • Xman says:

        If my memory serves me right !– I believe that both the PLP and the OBA are run by Human Beings
        who was or were elected by Human Beings.
        I say this to say that so many times we make the PLP or OBA look like its run by bad machines of some sort.
        The Idea Originaly could have possibly come from a person of the UBP, than adopted by the PLP and
        now going to be put in action by the OBA.
        This only shows that every political Party has had somthing to offer here.

    • Sandy Bottom says:

      Presumably you are also giving the PLP its fair share of credit for the absolute mess that the economy is in.

  3. Triangle Drifter says:

    Another ball dropped by the PLP, picked up, just in time by the OBA, & solidly kicked into the goal.

    Had the PLP been re elected you can almost bet your lives that this opportunity would have been missed through sheer neglect to follow through.

    The difference between business people & party people being at the helm.

    • My2Cents says:

      Triangle Drifter, put down your obvious politically biased view and pick up the mantle of fairness. Just as the UPB did something to make this happen so did the PLP. The OBA must have contributed as well but they came at the tail end when the ground work had been done.

      You also must accept that there are other things which the PLP put into place which the OBA will benefit from, such as: the Norwegian Breakaway, and the “So Much More” advertising campaign. Hopefully, if the tourism numbers improve as a result the OBA, and you, will give the PLP credit. And if Italians start coming to Bermuda in droves then credit should be given to Minister Crockwell for his recent expedition to Italy.

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        Politically biased? You bet. I am among the many Bermudians who are soo very happy to have the OBA as Government. I am soo very happy that the inept regime of the PLP is over.

        How do you feel knowing that the PLP has left us with a debt that costs us something like $200,000.00 per DAY to service. Id like to pass that debt on to the people who are responsible for it. Those who voted for the PLP like yourself. How about it? Want to man up to your responsibility? The OBA can’t snap fingers & make it go away.

      • Sandy Bottom says:

        You don’t think there is any chance at all that actual success, rather than attempting and failing, is a result of the competence of the specific people involved?

        • Triangle Drifter says:

          The PLP tried to be competent? They did manages to fool a bunch of gullible people for many years.

          • My2Cents says:

            Triangle Drifter, unfortunately you have fallen into the trap of others thinking that because I critcised the OBA that ergo I voted for the PLP. In actuality I have also vociferously criticised the PLP. You see Sir/Madam I have no political allegiance to either the OBA or the PLP therefore I have the flexibility of holding them both accountable. You on the other hand, maybe, are so blinded by your hate for the PLP that you are politically myopic and cannot see or accept the faults of the OBA. Liberate yourself and think objectively and in the process we both will make Bermuda a better place.

            Now for the record, I will say and have always said that for the past 5 years the PLP have royally messed up particularly as it relates to mismanagement of our finances. However, thus far the OBA has not yet convinced me that they will take us to the promised land. I will however give them more time.

            For future reference, please dispence with the sexist “man up” comments as it belittles the debate and presumes that I am of the male gender.