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'Largest' communication satellite launched

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(CNN) -- A Thai-owned communications satellite was launched early Thursday off French Guiana, officials said. Billed as the world's largest, the satellite will provide Internet access and multimedia services for the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and New Zealand.

The launch of the satellite was set for 6:39 GMT Thursday (2:39 a.m. ET), but was more than an hour and a half late after the countdown was halted at the 7-minute mark.

The Web site of Arianespace, the company that conducted the launch, said the delay was called during the two-hour launch window to verify telemetry readings from the Ariane 5 launcher.

The satellite, called Thaicom 4, will be operated by Shin Satellite, a company owned by the family of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and is the fourth satellite launched by the company. It weighs more than 7 tons and cost $400 million, and was built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California

The satellite has bandwidth capacity of 45 gigabytes per second and will route data through 18 gateways.

The launch was broadcast live on Thai television.

CNN's Narunart Prapanya contributed to this report.

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