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Government to unveil satellite slot operator

Government is expected to soon announce an operator for its valuable satellite orbital slot in space.

The Ministry of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy has revealed more details about a potentially lucrative deal with a company to place a communications satellite in the Island’s UN-allocated orbital location.

However, the Ministry said it could not disclose how much Government will earn from the deal until it is finalised.

“The Ministry has worked very hard to attract and court a suitable satellite operator for the Bermuda slot amidst the backdrop of the IOM (Isle of Man) challenge,” Minister Walter Roban said.

“We are pleased to say that we have found an operator that has the capability to maximise the economic value of the Slot.

“However, we are nearing completion of an agreement with the operator at which time we will be able to make an official release.

“As stated the value of the slot will vary greatly depending on the resourcefulness of the operator selected and we are looking to be a part of the revenue stream as best we can.

“It should be noted that the orbital slot asset will be at no cost to Bermuda once the Slot is fully commercialised.”

The Minister’s comments come after it was announced Government is looking to space for an economic lift off.

It said on Friday it is seeking to create a Space Enterprise Zone which could create jobs and prove to be “another major economic pillar” for the Island.

Minister Roban and permanent secretary Dr Derrick Binns will be in Paris this week attending the World Satellite Business Conference to try to drum up business from space related companies wishing to base themselves here or operate here.

Termed the “world hottest real estate” by a space industry publication, orbital slots are in high demand for communications satellites and can generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue.

Allocated in 1983 by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union, Bermuda and Isle of Man were in a lengthy dispute with each other over potential interference from their slots.

It’s not clear where that dispute now stands but a Government Minister said two years ago that Bermuda expected to have its BermudaSat-1 brought into operation by 2013 and that its aim was to lease it and provide service through it. The location is said to serve the lucrative North American market.

Another separate legal case also involved Bermuda orbital locations.

That court action was stayed earlier this year pending arbitration.

It involves a lawsuit by Kiskadee against two officers of ProtoStar Ltd for $18.25 million in compensatory damages.

Kiskadee’s principal shareholders are Bermudian businessman Jeffrey Conyers and David Mallof, of Washington.

According to the complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Kiskadee had formed a joint venture with ProtoStar, aiming to use a Bermuda orbital slot.

But after ProtoStar filed for bankruptcy and its joint venture with Kiskadee failed, Government terminated the exclusivity deal in June 2010.

Kiskadee claims that ProtoStar failed to disclose the full truth about its financial situation.

“This is a civil action for damages arising from the breach of fiduciary duties, fraud, negligence and related unlawful conduct of defendants in their role as directors and officers of ProtoStar Ltd and affiliates, brought by an injured minority shareholder,” the complaint stated.

Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy Walter Roban

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Published September 12, 2011 at 10:12 am (Updated September 12, 2011 at 10:11 am)

Government to unveil satellite slot operator

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