Lao satellite project on track, to launch in 2015

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo | Source: ANN
A senior Lao government official confirmed on Friday that the satellite project is on track for launching in 2015, the year when the country celebrates its 40th anniversary.

The government and the China-based Chengdu Linhai Electronics Company Ltd. established a joint company – the Lao-Linhai International Satellite Telecommunication Company – in December last year to carry out the project.

“Project officials are in the process of purchasing the satellite,” said a government official, who asked not to be named.

“Officials in charge are also detailing framework activities to carry out the project in the expectation of launching the satellite in 2015 to mark the 40th Lao National Day.”

The Chinese company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Lao government early last year to cooperate on the construction of a satellite communications park in Laos.

The investor will spend US$960 million to develop the project with a satellite set to operate for commercial purposes in the 126 degrees East orbital slot, which is owned by Laos.

Laos will hold a 30 per cent share in the project with the other 70 per cent to be owned by the Chengdu Linhai Electronics Company.

Under the MOU, the Chinese company and the Lao government will jointly build a factory that will manufacture satellite equipment and various electronic communications components. They will also set up the Institute for Science Educational Research and Technology Aerospace to train the highly skilled personnel required for the project.

Minister of Post and Telecommunications Hiem Phommachanh told the Vientiane Times previously that the satellite will provide 36 transponders for TV signals and enable transmission to many countries.

Last year, Linhai Group Chairman Dr Wu Weilin led a delegation to Laos on a working visit when he paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong as part of the group’s effort to push forward the satellite development project.

Dr Wu pledged to speed up the satellite development project after getting the green light from the government in early 2012.

Once Laos has its own satellite, it will be easier to further develop its telecommunications industry, since it will not be dependent on subscribing to satellite services from foreign countries like Thailand and China.

Laos has been working towards putting a satellite into orbit at the 126 degrees East location for a long time.

A previous joint venture with a Thai investor to put a satellite into orbit at the same location failed when the Thai party ran into financial difficulties.

Later, the government inked a cooperation agreement with an investor from the United States but that also failed for the same reason, according to Mr Hiem.

The Chengdu Linhai Electronics Company is one of the largest commercial enterprises in China. It provides communications services, short-wave communications, satellite communications, network communications, software radios, GPS navigation equipment, high-speed digital signal processing software, and other advanced communication systems.

The company also offers enterprise solutions, which include designing, implementing, and managing integrated communications networks for businesses and government bodies, and designing and delivering fully-integrated broadband communication solutions.