ECONOMY

Greece to get another satellite

Greece is about to acquire a second satellite system, as Communications Minister Michalis Liapis and OTE telecom’s president, Panagis Vourloumis, effectively revealed yesterday. Speaking at the event held in Athens by the European Satellite Organizations Association (ESOA), Liapis called HellasSat a key tool for promoting the digital strategy of the government. He added meaningfully that the HellasSat company should expand its activities in the future. Vourloumis expressed a similar view in his speech to ESOA members, saying that «in the future, we will seriously examine the option of extending our activities in this sector [of satellites], either on our own or through cooperation.» He then made it clear that this summer the HellasSat management will introduce a new business plan to the OTE board, including the proposal for the acquisition of a second satellite system. This plan, Vourloumis said, is essential for OTE in order for it to amortize its investment in HellasSat, as it cannot do so by itself. Both Liapis and Vourloumis made positive comments about developments at HellasSat: «I should note that in the last few years, a considerable amount of work has been done at HellasSat, including its streamlining,» said the minister, adding that the company has now begun to make a profit, enjoys international recognition and has clients in 30 countries. In the same vein, the OTE head said that after some teething problems, HellasSat is now well-organized and utilizes 80 percent of the satellite’s capacity. He also noted that the company has further scope for growth. OTE will assess all its options (the purchase of an existing satellite system and cooperation with another satellite company) and choose the best approach. Vourloumis invited Liapis to help to contribute in that direction, for the country to benefit from the development of satellite communications. The communications minister maintains the authority to approve any change in the share status of HellasSat. The ESOA event, titled «50 Years European Union: 50 Years Satellites» took place in Athens on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first satellite (Sputnik) being launched in September 2057. The celebration of the anniversary coincided with the Champions League final beamed across the world from Athens via satellite. The new ESOA President and HellasSat CEO Christos Protopapas said that more than 20,000 television channels, including 4,400 in Europe alone, broadcast via satellite. ESOA members also stressed the new role of satellites for the global awareness of broadband technology, as they are a flexible and economical means of broadcasting to remote areas. «The use of satellites is not restricted to broadcasting,» said Protopapas, as new technologies allow everyone to come closer to the Information Society.