Colombia plans national satellite

In March 2009, the Colombian government approved the guidelines for the construction of a Colombian Ku-band satellite, to be called Satelite Colombiano (Satcol) and to be financed through the country’s Communications Fund. 

The idea of Satcol had been brewing for many years. It received a new impetus in 2009 because the National Development Plan requires all public entities throughout the country to be connected by 2019, including schools, hospitals, and council offices. Some 40,000 of these institutions are located in remote areas (such as the Amazons), which make up more than half of the national territory and are impossible to connect through wired networks (either fibre optic of microwave). For those areas, the only access option is satellite communications, but Colombia’s satellite capacity is poor and expensive. Therefore, the government set aside a budget of Col$534.8 billion (US$264 million) for the construction of the Satcol satellite. 

The bidding rules for Satcol were published in August 2009. The government said the contract would be awarded in the following November, and the satellite would to be in orbit by 2012. But the conditions of the tender turned out to be unattractive to satellite operators; only one company, the Russian consortium Intersputnik ISS, presented a bid that was rejected because it was deemed incomplete. 

A new tender for Satcol was launched in January 2010. The government said it hoped to award a contract in June 2010, and was still expecting to have the satellite in orbit by 2012. 

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