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March 15, 2007

Insat-4B put into orbit, to help boost communications and DTH services

India's telecommunications satellite Insat-4B, which will augment direct-to-home (DTH) television and communication services, was launched last week from Kourou in French Guyana and placed into geo-synchronous transfer orbit.

The second satellite in the Insat-4 series, which was launched on board the European Ariane-5, is identical to the indigenous Insat-4A launched in December 2005. "The number of high power Ku-band transponders for DTH service has doubled to 24 with the addition of 12 such transponders from Insat-4B," a top ISRO official told reporters in Bangalore.

Apart from 12 Ku-band transponders, the 3,025 kg Insat-4B is carrying 12 C-transponders for communication and television services.

There is growing demand for transponders from customers in the communications, television and DTH space. Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO, is assigned the task of allotting of transponders.

"We have to strike a balance in allotting the transponders, as we had to make up for the loss of 12 transponders due to Insat-4C's crash. With all the transponders getting fully booked months before they were launched and made operational, we have done our best to satisfy as many customers by providing the required capacity," the official said. Systems on board the spacecraft were functioning normally, the space agency said in a statement.

"The satellite perigee was placed into the intermediate orbit at a distance of 14,244 km from the earth by firing the 440 Newton liquid apogee motor on board for about 93 minutes, with the entire operation conducted remotely by the Master Control Facility (MCF)," the agency said.

With its apogee at 35,752 km, the inclination of the orbit was reduced to 1.15 degrees from 4.5 degrees over the equatorial plane. The present orbital period is about 15 hours and 21 minutes.

"The satellite, which had gone out of radio visibility of MCF at 2.04 p.m. Monday (March 12), came within the visibility at 1.00 a.m. Tuesday (March 13). It has again gone out at 12.02 p.m. and will return at 6.11 a.m.(March 14)."

MCF near Hassan in Karnataka, about 180 km from Bangalore, acquired the first signals at 4.02 a.m. on March 12 after the satellite was launched on board Ariane-5 from Kourou in French Guyana and placed in the intended geo-synchronous transfer orbit with a perigee (closest point to the earth) of 250 km and an apogee (farthest point to earth) of 35,886 km.

"When the satellite nears the geo-stationary orbit (GSO) in the coming days, its dish shaped antenna reflectors and solar panels will be deployed. In GSO, Insat-4B will be co-located with Insat-3A satellite at 93.5 degree east longitude.

The solar panels of the 50-foot satellite can generate about 5,800 watt energy. Three lithium ion batteries of 100 ampere-hour (Ah) capacity will generate power to maintain the satellite's key functions during eclipse periods.

» Continued on page 2

International film festival opens in Pune on March 15

The fifth Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) gets underway in Pune from March 15. The week-long film festival will feature a retrospective on filmmaker Mani Ratnam and Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski.

Around 120 films from 30 countries will feature in the competition, world cinema and non-competition categories. "The focus this year will be on French, German, Norwegian, Chinese and Hungarian cinema," Suresh Kalmadi, MP and the festival's chairman, said. Jabbar Patel, director, PIFF, said they were hoping to bring good Hollywood and Indian cinema to the festival.

Seven Marathi films are in the competition category, and there are separate sections on the Indian panorama, and short films and documentaries. Some of these films have made it to prestigious film festivals like the Cannes, Berlinale and the Venice International Film Festival.

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India 2nd biggest mobile market

India is all set to become the second-largest market of mobile handsets by 2010, according to an official of Nokia, the world's largest mobile manufacturer.

"India is the fastest-growing mobile market in the world with six million subscribers adding every month," Sunil Dutt, director of Nokia India, said.

"The mobile industry in India, which is now holds third position in the world after China and the U.S., will be in the second position in three years - in terms of handsets sold in this country," he said.

"The mobile industry in India has taken off in a big way," he said, adding that Nokia expand its venture keeping in mind the requirements of the Indian market.

Better exchange rates for NRIs

Remit2india, the largest independent online money transfer portal for non-resident Indians (NRIs), has introduced a promotional campaign that offers better exchange rates to NRIs. This would enable them to convert more foreign currency into rupees and earn up to Rs. 4,500 over the standard rates through a cash-back scheme.

Non-resident external accounts are rupee accounts that NRIs are allowed to maintain in banks in India. Any person of Indian origin or nationality, currently settled abroad, can open these accounts which can be in the form of savings, current or term deposit. These accounts are popular as NRIs can enjoy the benefits of higher interest rates, tax-free principal and interest amount and also full repatriability of funds involved.

The NRE account is also used by NRIs as a channel to route investment into including mutual funds, property and insurance. A Remit2India spokesperson said, "It won't be incorrect to say that there is a clear upward trend in the volume of funds being transferred into NRE accounts." The service is available in 32 countries and nine currencies across the globe for in-bound remittances to India through a multiple money transfer option available on the website.

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India top remittance recipient

The inflow of remittances into India is growing at around 20 percent every year, according to Western Union South Asia Managing Director Anil Kapur. This, when the global remittances business, worth about $269 billion, was growing at only 8 percent per annum.

According to a World Bank study, India accounts for around 10 percent of the remittances, or about $22-23 billion. As per the Reserve Bank of India's report for 2006, the maximum remittances came into India from North America and the Gulf, in which the former accounted for 44 percent of the remittances and the latter 24 percent.

Money transfer companies plan to increase their network in India in order to cash in on the growing remittance market, said to be the largest remittance receiving nation in the world.

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