Is something wrong with Venezuela's satellite?

21 May 2009

Independent satellite monitors in the Americas say that recent presidential TV broadcasts purportedly transmitted by Venezuela’s Venesat-1 (Simon Bolivar) satellite have in fact been delivered via a neighbouring orbiter. Officially, a government statement on 10 January 2009 said state-owned telco CANTV had commenced offering services via the satellite, aiming to provide high speed internet access, TV and satellite-based telephony for remote regions. However, there are no confirmed reports that any of these services are currently in operation. Via an investment of USD400 million, Venesat-1 was launched in October 2008 with assistance from China, and control was passed from Chinese to Venezuelan technicians in January.

CANTV says that it has so far installed around 500 satellite antennas, including facilities for schools in remote locations, and is aiming to deploy 1,200 by mid-year, 3,500 by end-2009 and 16,000 in five years. Venezuela’s communications ministry issued a statement on 9 May, excerpts of which read: ‘The investment… will eventually provide a large number of functionalities through Venesat-1 in terms of momentum and optimisation of telecommunications and lower international transmission costs, just a few months after [launch].’

On 30 April the interim Minister of Science & Technology Jesse Chacon was appointed by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to the Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities, responsible for Venesat-1. Chacon replaced Nuris Orihuela, who left the post of Minister of Science & Technology on 9 April reportedly after disagreements with the president.

Venezuela, CANTV