The rumors you have heard are true. AMC-8 is being retired and will not be replaced in it’s orbital slot, Apparently there will be some major reshuffling going on as the 8000 AMC-8 radio downlinks pointing to this bird will need to be moved sometime in late 2017 or early 2018.
Why is it not being replaced? Simply put, there are not enough customers on the orbital satellite to financially make a replacement viable.
After the launch of AMC-8 in 2000, the even numbered transponders at the 139 degree orbital slot were identified as Alascom (Aurora 3), while the odd numbered transponders were owned and leased by GE, and then SES under AMC-8. The popular bird was not only home for telephone communications for the state of Alaska, but for radio broadcasters and cable networks in the lower 48, as well.
But things have changed over the last 15 years. In favor of fiber and microwave, Alascom has been moving all voice and data traffic off the satellite. For Alascom, there is no need to purchase 12 transponders on a satellite at 139 degrees.
The radio portion of the neighborhood is a fraction of the remaining 12 odd transponders, now more efficient due to new satellite technology. Much of what is AMC-8’s current radio neighborhood had previously been allocated to cable networks, but most of the cable networks have migrated away from 139 degrees, as well.
So what does this mean for AMC-8’s current customers? Pack your bags, we’re moving. When and where has yet to be determined.
As space segment providers, we are just as concerned as you. That’s why we are actively seeking answers from SES. As soon as WE know the plan, you will know the plan.
If you have any concerns about this transition, give Ka You a call or drop us an email. Though there is no time frame as yet, we can trouble-shoot with you on how best to tackle moving your downlinks. Now and in the future, we are engaged in the process.