LA PAZ – President Evo Morales inaugurated commercial services from Bolivia’s first telecommunications satellite and announced a significant reduction in rates for Internet and cellular connections.
State-owned telecommunications company Entel will also use the cost savings made possible by the satellite to cut rural customers’ bills for cable television and radio, the president said.
Entel’s Internet service will no longer be the slowest or most expensive in Latin America, Morales said, adding that Bolivian cellular subscribers will soon enjoy lower rates than their counterparts in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
The launch of commercial services coincided with the formal transfer of control over the satellite from the Chinese firm that built the craft to the Bolivian Space Agency.
The Tupac Katari satellite, named for the Indian leader who staged a rebellion against the Spanish Empire in the 18th century, was built by China Great Wall Industry Corporation, a unit of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
Known as TKSat-1, the satellite was launched on Dec. 20 from China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
TKSat-1 will be operated by ground control stations in the Bolivian regions of La Paz and Santa Cruz staffed by civilian and military personnel trained in China.
The $302 million project was largely financed with a loan from the China Development Bank and the Tupac Katari was developed from the Chinese-made DFH-4 platform.