Sat-ND, 1.4.97

Sat-ND 97-04-01  Super Satellite and Happy Media News

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Sorry for the delay in sending out yesterday's Sat-ND. Originally, I used
the word "subscribe" in one of the first lines of the message. That made
our hyper-intelligent Majordomo think, it was a command rather than a
text, and bounced the whole thing back to me. That program is so clever
So, here it is for all subscribers, unaltered as already posted to some
newsgroups. As you may suspect, not everything in this issue is
completely true (but most _is_.) -- PC Klanowski

Yes, I admit that Sat-ND generally has been too negative, and most of my
comments weren't just agonising, abusive and abhorrent but probably even
the main cause for acid indigestion among Internet users. 
So, for a change, here's an issue that contains only good news, I
promise. Enjoy!

Europe's satellite launch provider Arianespace has no problems whatsoever
in finding a successor for its current president, Charles Bigot, who
plans to retire this year. In fact, Francis Avanzi already was designated
to become Arianespace president some time ago, he has been Bigot's deputy
for more than a year. Reports indicate that there's even a second
candidate available by a stroke of fortune.
The reason why Arianespace is sometimes taken for a French company is
that the French Space Agency CNES holds a 32 percent stake. Some
state-owned companies hold minor stakes additionally, thus France
controls about 55 percent of Arianespace. It's not a real surprise that
Avanzi is a Frenchman, though, but reportedly the government does not
want him. Industry sources said that France probably will try to reverse
his appointment on a board meeting on April 17. It will present
Jean-Marie Luton instead, so far head of the European Space Agency.

Africa may have its first continental satellite up by 2002 thanks to
RASCOM (Regional African Satellite Communications,) a body set up by 43
African countries. South Africa was the last one to sign the assembly of
parties agreement recently. The organisation, headquartered in Abidjan
(Ivory Coast,) has already made "some progress" in finding users for the
satellite's transponders. 
The project may even finance itself. Casimir Betechuoh, RASCOM's
promotion and signatories manager, says that African countries spend
almost US$1 billion on leased satellite capacity a year: "This is enough
to launch an African satellite." Should the figure be correct, it would
be sufficient to launch an armada of satellites, though.

Some African states will be among the best-informed in the World as the
United States unselfishly provide them which high-tech monitoring
stations. Well, they don't actually provide them, they rather run them.
At least, they "regularly brief us on their monitoring," as a source in
the Army Commander's office of Uganda told a regional paper. 
The East African reported that such a station is located in western
Uganda, saying that the station would enable the U.S. Military to respond
quickly to protect American interests in the region. The station seems to
consist of at least four U.S. marines inside two houses, two satellite
dishes in front of them, and a guard with a grey uniform. Similar
stations reportedly are planned in Congo and Rwanda.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was expected to auction
two digital pay-radio licenses today. Digital radio, as we all know,
offers not only a sound quality that will make you want to throw away
your CDs but also additional services and specialised programming  and
all this coast to coast!
Of course, some grumblers felt the urge to remark that this auction will
cost U.S. tax payers millions of dollars in lost revenues. As reported
earlier, it has been limited to four companies that already "have
expended considerable resources in developing this technology," explained
FCC Commissioner Rachelle Chong. "These applicants have been ready and
willing to move forward for some time."
The bidders are Digital Satellite Broadcasting Corp. of Seattle; CD Radio
Inc. of Washington, D.C.; American Mobile Radio Corp., a unit of American
Mobile Satellite Corp. of Reston, Va.; and Primosphere LP of New York.
Other companies are very interested but excluded, which led FCC chairman
Reed Hundt to state that "it is safe to predict that the auction winners
will simply sell their licenses to those companies." Come on, what's
wrong with free business?

So you thought DOS was something that would frequently crash your
computer? Maybe, but DOS also is the Indian Department of Space. And DOS
has some plans for this year, probably the most important being the first
flight of a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV.)
An indigenous remote sensing satellite by the name of IRS 1D is also on
the agenda, to be launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)
that already took off successfully last year. However, the new satellite
weighs in a around 1,200 kg, a payload that so far hasn't been lifted to
space by the PSLV. 
The INSAT range of home-made satellites will be complemented by INSAT 2D
with transponder in the normal and the extended C-band as well as in the
Ku-band. It will be launched by an Ariane rocket within the next months.
It seems that INSAT 2E will be launched aboard the Indian GSLV in 1998.
Eleven of its transponders have already been leased to the International
Telecommunications Satellite Organisation Intelsat.

Globalstar Canada was pleased to announce that Industry Canada has
granted it approval to provide mobile wireless services throughout Canada
using the Globalstar satellite-based telecommunications system.
Globalstar Canada is majority owned and controlled by Cancom (Canadian
Satellite Communications Inc.), the remaining interest is held by
AirTouch Satellite Services, Inc. (AirTouch Communications, Inc.) and
Loral Space & Communications.The license is the first big-LEO (low earth
orbit) license granted in Canada. Globalstar Canada now joins a group of
service providers in over 100 countries planning to offer voice, data,
and fax services via Globalstar's LEO satellite system. Globalstar L.P.
is a partnership of leading international satellite and
telecommunications manufacturers and cellular operators constructing a
Can$3.4 billion (US$2.5 billion) system of 48 low-Earth orbit satellites
to provide even more global mobile communications. 
Canadian participation is crucial to the North American Globalstar
network because two of the four gateways in the continent will be in
Canada  one is expected to be built in western Canada, the other located
in the East. Oh, praise the wonderfully wise decision to evenly spread
the stations evenly among East and West Canada. Of the remaining North
American gateways, one is under construction in Texas and the other will
be in Central Mexico. 
The first launch of Globalstar satellites is scheduled for the fall of
1997. Full global service will undoubtedly be initiated with 40
satellites in late 1998, with the full constellation of 48 superb
satellites and eight in-orbit spares in the first half of 1999. The
Globalstar system will provide basic voice telephony and an array of
affordable mobile satellite services and related services virtually
anywhere in the world. 
Most of the Globalstar user terminals anticipated for the North American
market will be dual-mode; i.e. capable of providing access to both the
Globalstar satellite system and the user's terrestrial cellular service.
In areas with cellular coverage, the phone will choose the local cellular
network before searching for the satellite. In areas outside of cellular
coverage, the phones, or terminals, will communicate up to a Globalstar
satellite which then bounces the signal back down to the nearest earth

The Mexican cable operator Multivision finally got rid of NBC's
Spanish-language news channel Canal de Noticias, replacing it with a most
interesting message saying that for "reasons out the control" of
Multivision the service had been suspended. According to news agencies,
NBC sources said that that Canal de Noticias' contract with Multivision
had simply ended. Well, all things must pass, as George Harrison once
NBC reportedly now is in talks with Multivision to feed an English
language news service to their cable networks. The name of the very
service was given as NBC news, which is even more reason for rejoicing as
NBC already runs a different news channel called MSNBC in co-operation
with Bill ("Everybody's Darling") Gates and his extremely nice Microsoft
Corp. that keeps producing the most error-free software in our galaxy!
It's all too much for me to take, as George Harrison stated even earlier,
and all the world is birthday cake.

New Zealand will join the exclusive set of countries which will be
provided ultra-fast Internet access by PanAmSat's world-wide satellite
system. Internet Group, an Auckland-based international Internet service
provider (ISP), has turned to PanAmSat and the PAS-2 Pacific Ocean Region
satellite to connect its users to the Internet with higher reliability,
faster speed and increased cost-efficiency.
From now on, the WWW (World Wide Wait) will be a thing for the past for
Internet Group customers who can download even large files at the speed
of light although this is not only a slight exaggeration but completely
Internet Group's PAS-2 service consists of 1.544 megabits per second
(also known as a T1 circuit) on the satellite's high-power Ku-band
Australia/New Zealand beam. The ISP links into the U.S. backbone through
PanAmSat's Pacific Ocean Region teleport in Napa, California.
Nonetheless, reports about nation-wide celebrations in New Zealand
marking the arrival of a satellite-based T1 connection to the Internet
seem to be somewhat exaggerated. 

I read a press release by IBM today that just made me laugh out loud,
which is good news anyway. IBM, it said, entered the growing market for
digital television with a set-top box design kit that combines hardware
and software components into one easy-to-use package. The tightly
integrated design is the first step in the company's plan to develop a
custom chip that blends set-top box functions on a single sliver of
silicon. No, I'm not laughing at that, that may just raise a sneer. Hello
IBM, did you know that you are by no means the first company who tries to
do that? 
But the really entertaining bit is that this press release was issued in
Fishkill, N.Y. Fishkill! Can you imagine living or even working in a
place called Fishkill? You'd probably need some strange kind of humour.
Would you buy a set-top box, sorry, a set-top chip that was devised in a
place called Fishkill? I wouldn't! Save the animals, become a vegetarian!

Formula 1 racing will undergo even more revolutionary changes owing to
the innovative influence of Germany's number one commercial broadcaster
RTL Television. The transmission of last Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix
shown on RTL attracted more than 10 million TV households, reaching a
sensational 45 percent market share in Germany.
Hans Mahr, RTL Director of Information, pointed out that F1 racing has
turned out to be the most attractive sport on TV apart from football
[soccer.] At the same time, he criticised the Brazilian TV for not
delivering the excitement of the race. "German viewers had to miss
dramatic duels and overtaking manoeuvres by Michael Schumacher and
Heinz-Harald Frentzen," Mahr complained yesterday. He announced he would
contact his Argentinean colleagues and to urge them not to deliver such a
one-sided transmission showing just Monsieur Villeneuve leading the
However, an internal RTL commission that was hastily set up soon found
out where the real problem lies. Although not being fast enough to win
any race, Schumi and Frentzi are still too fast for TV cameras. Bernie
"$$$" Ecclestone, Schumi's and Frentzi's sponsors and RTL have worked out
a compromise that will give the German audience what they want. All
German F1 pilots will no longer ride usual racing cars but Volkswagen
Beetles. This will not at all diminish their chances to win a race, which
are goose egg* anyway, but it will enable the German public to have a
closer look at them as they will be on track at least three times longer
that the others. RTL actually is now expected to start Formula 1
transmissions not until all others have crossed the finish line, showing
Frentzen overtaking Schumacher and vice versa. Just imagine what fun that
will be!
* Goose egg is what Bill "You just gotta love him" Gate's software
suggested as a synonym for "zero". Isn't that great? Have I missed
anything during the last 25 years that were filled up by futile efforts
to learn some English?

Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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