Sat-ND, 26.9.96

Sat-ND 96-09-26 - Satellite and Media News

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*** SORRY! ***
Yesterday's Sat-ND was, unfortunately not for the first time, sent out
two or three times. My apologies to everybody who felt annoyed by this
error. (Of course, I will take back any unread Sat-NDs and refund the
money ;-)


Ariane 5: Next launch in April 
The second launch of Europe's new Ariane 5 commercial space rocket,
initially scheduled for this month, has been postponed to mid-April. The
first Ariane-5 rocket exploded shortly after lift-off in June,
destroying four uninsured scientific satellites worth US$500 million.
Today, Jean-Marie Luton, Director General of ESA, and Alain Bensoussan,
Chairman of CNES, presented an action plan drawn up in response to the
report submitted by the Ariane 501 Inquiry Board (Sat-ND, 23.7.96.)
ESA and CNES, together with the firms concerned, have accepted all the
Inquiry Board's recommendations, and in particular:
- correction of the software in the inertial reference system (SRI);
- changes to the functional simulation facility to make the
qualification tests more representative of the flight environment;
- review of all embedded software.
The launch of Ariane 503 will also form part of the Ariane-5
qualification process and could take place in September 1997.
Concerning the payloads to be flown on the two launchers, the initial
development approach was confirmed. Ariane 502 will carry two
technological measurement payloads for validation of a dual launch into
geostationary transfer orbit and the amateur radio satellite AMSAT;
Ariane 503 will launch the Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator (ARD, a
technology demonstration capsule for a future European manned space
transport vehicle) and a commercial payload.
The financial impact of the Ariane 501 launch failure through to the end
of the qualification is presently estimated at ECU288 million (S$384
Speaking to a press conference in Kourou, French Guiana, Arianespace
chairman Charles Bigot today admitted that the transition period from
Ariane 4 to Ariane 5 "has now become delicate. We have taken the
decision to order more Ariane 4 rockets- I cannot now give you an exact
number but I would estimate it to be about five or six to meet the
demands of our clients scheduled for launch in 1999." The reliable
Ariane 4 launcher originally was due to be phased out in 2000.
Arianespace has on order 22 more Ariane-4 rockets and 14 Ariane-5
rockets to service a customer backload of 42 heavy satellites to launch
worth an estimated $4.1 billion.

Major changes underway at Intelsat
If I'm not completely wrong, the international satellite organisation
INTELSAT is still be largest of its kind. The structure of the
organisation was, however, devised some thirty years ago. Nowadays, the
satellite giant is urged to move its expectedly profitable services such
as video transmissions to a new commercial unit that may even be
publicly traded. 
The United States, by the way not a member of the Intelsat consortium,
now have proposed to give 12 of Intelsat's 24 operating satellites to a
new affiliate that concentrates on video services. Actually, the word
"affiliate" is an exaggeration. Intelsat members would, according to US
plans, be allowed to hold just 20 percent of the new company. The other
dozen satellites would remain with Intelsat, providing point-to-point
It is not quite clear whether this would technically feasible as
INTELSATs usually offer both kinds of service simultaneously. Anyway,
isn't it remarkable that in times when US satellite companies merge
(Hughes/PanAmSat, Loral/AT&T Skynet,) an international competitor may be
split apart?
No, this is not exactly what the competitors want. They want Intelsat to
disappear completely. PanAmSat president and chief executive, Fred
Landman, said Intelsat was no longer needed: "No one would lose service
if Intelsat were to disappear tomorrow." And Bernard Schwartz, Loral
Space & Communications Ltd. chairman and chief executive, called for
Intelsat's "full privatisation."
Officials at Comsat Corp., a company that acts as the US signatory,
holding 19 percent of Intelsat, said the US proposal for Intelsat was an
appropriate compromise that "balances the diverse U.S. interests of
customers, competitors, policy makers and shareholders."

Orion to provide PSINet's European backbone
International satellite communications services provider Orion Network
Systems, Inc. and PSINet Inc., the first commercial Internet service
provider, announced today that they have signed a multi-year agreement
under which Orion affiliate Orion Atlantic, L.P. is to provide
international backbone network transmission for PSINet's recently
announced PSINet Europe Internet services venture (Sat-ND, 24.9.96) that
will begin offering Internet services to individual and corporate users
in Europe by mid 1997.
Under the terms of the agreement, Orion Atlantic is to provide very high
speed network connections to PSINet between existing and future PSINet
Internet points-of-presence (POPs) within Europe and between Europe and
the US via ORION 1 (37.5W.)  The potential value of the contract to
Orion is in excess of $10 million, based on PSINet Europe's projections,
according to Orion Network Systems Chief Executive Officer W. Neil
Bauer.  Specific financial terms of the agreement between PSINet and
Orion were not disclosed.
"There is substantial demand for very large capacity Internet service in
Europe, and such demand is largely unfulfilled," said Bauer. Yes -- and
In a press release, Orion said that "backbone networks of Pan-European
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are typically comprised of a series of
interconnected national telephone networks, running at speeds of
considerably less than 2 Mbps at present." This is, of course, not the
whole truth -- but admittedly things are going wrong. For example, most
German Access providers route their international traffic via the United
States simply because it's cheaper -- even if the destination is in
Europe. And this traffic is definitely already going via satellite, as
the response delay times show. Except from offering a bit more capacity,
it's unclear how Orion and PSINet could help change the current Internet
misery in parts of Europe.
Orion plans to launch two more satellites during 1999, expanding
potential coverage under the agreement eastward to beyond the Urals, and
to all of the Middle East, South America, and the major population
centers of the Asia-Pacific region.
Orion Network Systems is an international satellite communications
company that provides private, multimedia network communications
services to multinational businesses and transmits video communications
for television and other program distribution services.  Its 41 2/3%
owned affiliate, Orion Atlantic, L.P., is an international partnership
consisting of such leading aerospace, communications and trading
companies as British Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Matra Hachette and
Nissho Iwai.

Radio satellites simulated by German helicopter
WorldSpace and Germany's  Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits
have demonstrated a satellite direct-to-person audio receiver working
with small, efficient antennas. The Fraunhofer Institute, a pioneer in
digital audio broadcasting, conducted tests which validate the
WorldSpace technical approach for direct satellite radio for the
developing world.  As a first step, the Institute created a prototype
receiver.  To simulate satellite operation, engineers at Fraunhofer
utilised a helicopter equipped with a digital transmitter.
"This demonstration proves that the WorldSpace system will work for
people on the move throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin
America and the Caribbean," said Noah A. Samara, Chairman and CEO of
WorldSpace, after driving along streets and highways around Erlangen,
Germany, while listening to CD-quality sound being broadcast from the
helicopter.  "It was a wonderful trip."
Fraunhofer software engineers have also developed a customised version
of MPEG II Layer 3 digital compression which makes it possible for
WorldSpace satellites to broadcast good quality audio transmission rates
as low as 16 kilobits per second.
However, a geostationary satellite is somewhat more remote than a
helicopter. Beginning in mid-1998, WorldSpace plans to launch three
geostationary satellites in six-months intervals that will finally
broadcast to a potential audience of more than four billion people in
Africa and the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean
(Sat-ND, 2.7.96.)

Keep 'em coming: More digital decoders
According to a Reuters report, Dutch-based media group Nethold said
yesterday that the group planned to launch a new, europe-wide decoder to
unscramble pay-television signals as a result of the merger with Canal+.
"The [company's] two technologies will continue to operate separately
and will converge in the medium term," Nethold business development
manager Sergio Iasi told Reuters Financial Television in an interview.
Asked for more details of future plans, he added: "We plan to come out
with a third box common to all broadcasters." (But first they'll sell
the boxes they've ordered so far -- Ed.)
Isn't it interesting? Obviously they don't say if this third set-top
will have an Irdeto Conditional Access System or SECA or a third new
conditional access system. I personally think that SECA will be dropped
in the future and this third CA system will probably (and hopefully) be
an enhanced version of the Irdeto system. What do you think? A box
common to all broadcasters: this is going to be an easy one since Canal
Plus/Nethold is at the moment (and will be for a while in the future)
the only digital broadcaster in Europe.
(Lisa Di Feliciantonio/pck)

Thanks very much for this one, Lisa. Well, what do I think? Anybody
who's interested in digital TV should wait, wait, wait 'till the dust
settles before spending any money. And Monsieur Erneux, should you read
this, do you have any further enlightenment? We'd appreciate it.

The Digital Decoder Debate continues
I agree with your comments in SatCoDx [Hmm.. this is Sat-ND! -- Ed.] of
In fact, if you have a DVR-500 with a Dutch NetHold subscription --
which uses the IRDETO encryption format-- you are prevented from
watching other multiplexes that also use Irdeto. The receiver responds
with an on-screen message saying that it's recognised a stream that uses
Irdeto encryption but it won't let you even see the **free** (i.e. not
scrambled) channels within that multiplex -- even though they're sent in
the clear, a blatant restriction of our rights.  I guess if enough
people complained to the EU about this, they might just change the
system; in my cynical opinion this will happen "when hell freezes over"
(to quote from the Eagles country band)....
Chris Muriel (chris.muriel@analog.com)

Well, I guess that even the proposed "Europe-wide" system as proposed by
Canal+ and Nethold is not going to change much about the fact that most
broadcasting rights are issued separately for different parts of Europe.
With or without digital TV, there will be no real television without
frontiers, more or less as a result of Hollywood's efforts to squeeze
out as much profit as possible from the European market. That's what
really counts, not any particular decoder war.

TÜRKSAT channel revamp
A lot has changed on TÜRKSAT (42E) this morning. Here's the new
(Eurobeam !!) channel layout (all channels vertically polarized:)

10.965  ATV-2
11.008  Cine 5
        7.38/7.56  Number One FM
11.050  Show TV (The turkish version, EuroShow is now gone)
        7.02/7.20  Show Radyo
        7.74       Class FM
11.085  Semanyolu TV
        7.40       Burc FM
11.145  Kanal 7
        7.02/7.20  Marmara FM
        7.38       Morales FM
        7.74/7.92  Tartuz FM
        8.10/8.28  Best FM
11.185  Euro D
        7.02       Radyo D
        7.56       Empty Carrier
11.470  TRT 1
        8.30       Test Tone
11.500  TRT 2 / TRT Gap
        8.30       Test Tone
11.570  TRT 3
        8.25       Empty Carrier
11.600  TRT 4
        8.30       Radio Haber
(Raphael Cockx)

By Dr Sarmaz <DrSarmaz@aol.com>

BSkyB to expand Pay Per View
Mr Murdoch had such a fun earning a few million pounds without lifting a
finger by showing Frank Bruno's WBC defence against Mike Tyson back in
March. The boxing event attracted 660,000 viewers willing to pay almost
10 pounds, creating a windfall profit of 6.6 million pounds for BSkyB,
not including revenues from sales of the fight to clubs, pubs and
cinemas. BSkyB held the broadcasting rights anyway.
Guess whether they'll try again. Of course they will. On November 9,
there will be six world title fights transmitted over a period of ten
hours, the half of it only available to viewers by a 10-pound extra fee.
Sure it'll be a knock-out.

Copyright 1996 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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