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TELE-satellite International — The World‘s Largest Digital TV Trade Magazine
— 02-03/2012
Administrative building in
Burum in northern Holland,
where CASTOR rents offices
from Stratos.
If you ever find yourself traveling in
northern Holland through the town of
Burum, you won’t be able to help but
notice the giant satellite antenna farm.
Large 32-meter antennas stand along-
side 16.4-meter dishes as well as many
nine-meter antennas. There’s also a large
assortment of smaller dishes of all sizes.
The groundstation used to belong to the
Dutch telecommunications provider KPN
but is now owned by Stratos, a leading
provider for Inmarsat services. Ivo Veld-
kamp successfully negotiated a manage-
ment buy-out in early 2005 and estab-
lished CASTOR. As a result CASTOR has
become an important provider at the Bu-
rum Teleport together with Stratos itself.
Managing Director Edwin Cras told us
more about those early days: “We start-
ed with seven employees; they had con-
trol over a total of six antennas: a small
4.6-meter dish, two 6.0-meter antennas
and three of the large 9.0-meter giants.”
The young company proved to be suc-
cessful in the market and has been able
to increase their sales from four million
Euros back then towards almost 10 mil-
lion Euros today. “We grow between 10
and 20% every year.”
Who are the heavyweights for CASTOR
at the Burum Teleport? “An important
part of our business is with Maritime Ser-
vice Providers,” comments Edwin Cras,
“which includes for example the Miami
based company MTN, one of the largest
in this segment.” MTN has been using
CASTOR Teleport for many years to pro-
vide Internet service as well as their own
onboard TV channels to cruise ships at
this side of the globe. “For these custom-
ers we put our largest system into ser-
vice: the 16.4-meter dish that is fixed on
NSS12 at 57 east.”
The 16.4-meter dish is not the only an-
tenna that was added since the founding
of the company; nine-meter dishes were
also added. “Three of our five 9.0-meter
antennas are used for the Ku-band: one is
pointed to AM1 at 40E, another to ASTRA
3B at 23.5E and the third is aligned with
EUTELSAT W2A at 10E.” We were sur-
prised to learn what these satellites are
used for; Edwin Cras explains: “They are
used to provide passenger planes with
Internet access so that the passengers
don’t have to do without their laptops or
Smartphones.” For this service CASTOR
handles both the uplink and downlink In-
ternet traffic, The remaining two nine-
meter dishes are used for the C-band.
“One of them is pointed to EXPRESS A4
at 14W while the other one is aligned with
INTELSAT 906 at 64E.” Both of these up-
links are used for maritime data transmis-
sions. CASTOR has also been uplinking
transponders for the Dutch DTH bouquet
Canal Digitaal from Burum using a 9 me-
ter antenna on Astra 3B.
CASTOR has been offering occasional
capacity (short SNG transmissions) since
2010. “We have leased an entire tran-
sponder with 54 MHz bandwidth on AM44
at 11W and use it to offer SNG transmis-
sions”, Edwin Cras tells us, “One hour of
transmission time with a bandwidth of 36
MHz costs 600 Euros with us.” The band-
width is precisely set up for an HD chan-
nel. “Customers can select the slots on
their own through our online booking sys-
tem”, he adds.
But CASTOR’s main source of earnings
comes from ‘closed user groups’. Ed-
win Cras explains what that means: “We
have, for example, a European country