Sat-ND, 22.9.1997 Like forty Indians
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The 100th Ariane rocket is scheduled to blast off from French Guiana tomorrow, putting Intelsat 803 into orbit. [I know I reported that before, but here's some additional information.]
Built by Lockheed Martin Telecommunications, the 3.4-tonnes Intelsat 803 will provide television and telephone services to the Atlantic ocean region (mostly to Africa and the Middle East) from its position at 21.3 degrees East. The launch is set for between 8.58 p.m. and 9.47 p.m. (2358 UTC Tuesday and 0047 UTC Wednesday) from the European Space Agency (ESA) launch centre in Kourou, French Guiana.
Intelsat 803 provides 22.500 conventional telephony circuits, 112.500 digital ones and three TV transponders. In the age of digital compression, however that means that 24 TV channels or more can be distributed some of them are Discovery, TV5 Afrique, MCM Africa, AB Cartoons, EuroNews, Canal+Horizon, Deutsche Welle, RTP International and RTP Africa.
Live coverage of the launch will be available to European viewers on Telecom 2B, 3.768 GHz rhc and Telecom 2C, 12.606 GHz v (North America: GE-2, transponder 20.)
The first of the Ariane rocket series took off in December 1979. Since then, eight of the rockets have failed. Even though Arianespace its rocket was one of the most reliable satellite launchers on the market, there certainly are more successful ones. However, the last consecutive 27 launches took place without any problems.
NASA engineers did not succeed in reviving the defunct scientific satellite Lewis. Launched exactly a month ago, the probe is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere this month and burn up.
The siltent started spinning soon after launch for unknown reasons, lost energy and finally automatically shut down. "The probability that any part of [Lewis] will survive is very low, and it presents no significant threat to people on the ground," said Samuel Venneri, chief technologist at NASA headquarters in Washington. It's also unknown where the 400-kg satellite will finally come down and [hopefully] burn up nicely. The ground path of its polar sun-synchronous orbit stretches over every part of the Earth.
NASA spokesman Doug Isbell said that Venneri does not see Lewis' problem as a failure of NASA's "faster, better, cheaper" mandate but "just a failure of [the satellite's] attitude control system." As reported, the problems with Lewis started when it was in "autonomous mode," one of the new technologies to be tested.
There will be an African satellite system with a first spacecraft up by 2000 or 2001. It will be named Rascom 1 after its operator, the Regional African Satellite Communications Organisation.
The US$200-million Rascom 1 is part of an ambitious US$1.2 billion communications project to provide telephone links both within Africa and with the rest of the world. The Abidjan-based Rascom plans to call preliminary international tenders next month for "a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT)" consortium to launch and manage Rascom 1 for 10 years. The consortium is expected to be put together in June or July next year.
Rascom 1 will save states of the Organisation of African Unity millions of US dollars in transponder leases. Currently, the organisation is in the process of assembling capital of $330 million from member states on a voluntary basis, and the response has been encouraging, the head of marketing and international relations at Rascom, Christian Kow Sagoe, told Reuters in an interview.
However, the International Telecommunications Union ITU noted in its "Telecommunications indicators from Africa report" back in May 1996 that "Rascom was seeking US$180 million in finance to launch a satellite in 1997." That obviously has not happened.
Rascom's objective is to raise telephone density in Africa to an average one to 100 inhabitants from about six to 10,000 today. The average distance to the nearest telephone in Africa is also expected to be reduced dramatically from 50 km to about five km. "The idea is to provide a satellite that is powerful enough to allow small stations to hook up for affordable telephone services for rural areas," Sagoe said. The satellite will also enable transmission and exchange of television and radio programmes across Africa.
"Rascom hopes to install 456,000 fixed solar-powered telephone stations with international access across the continent over a seven-year period." Calls would cost some 10 US cents per minute, much less than what international communications carriers are expected to charge.
An Intelsat VIII satellite [803, I suppose what a coincidence] will initially bundle the continent's domestic phone traffic and will serve as backup once Rascom 1 is launched.
Police plan a major crackdown on the sale of illegal satellite television dishes. China? Iran? No. Canada.
That's what Canadian papers reported over the weekend, but actually the move is not directed against illegal dish owners. No, apparently you may not install whatever reception equipment you'd like to in Canada last June, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the so-called "grey market" U.S. satellite dishes for digital Direct-to-Home (DTH) services such as DirecTV and EchoStar were illegal.
It's a strange story anyway. People who bought such equipment and subscribed to U.S. DTH services under U.S. billing addresses, usually P.O. boxes, should've known they were doing something more or less illegal. They also should've known that once the U.S. service provider would find out where they really lived, their screen would turn black the very next day.
This is what actually happened to thousands of them. And yet, those guys started complaining about being deprived of services they simply are no entitled to receive anyway. Moan, moan, moan! What's even stranger, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (that's what RCMP stands for, as far as I can remember) said, following the complaints, officers from the customs and excise unit will try to shut down dozens of dealers who sell dishes that illegally pull in signals from U.S. companies.
Mounties will not pull the dishes of the illegal users' homes or have them prosecuted, though: "After people have paid out between C$2,500 and C$4,500 for a setup that stops working on them, they don't need to be charged as well," a spokesman said.
The issue is, by the way, not so much about keeping U.S. content away from Canadians. Most of them have access to U.S. TV channels anyway (two thirds of the country's population live close to the border.) The problem is that Canadian satellite companies and broadcasters pay for the rights to beam U.S. programming across the country.
Canadian distiller Seagram Co. is buying Viacom Inc.'s half of USA Networks for US$1.7 billion, ending a dispute that lasted for nearly a year and a half.
A Delaware judge ruled last May that Viacom had violated the companies' ownership agreement by operating competing networks like MTV, VH-1 and Nickelodeon. Both sides were ordered to re-negotiate their partnership.
The deal would benefit Seagram by giving its Universal Studios unit sole control of an outlet to distribute its movies and television shows. The agreement includes a clause that Viacom will not start a competing network to the Sci-Fi Channel, which is part of USA Networks. It also reportedly includes a pact for Seagram to continue buying programming from Viacom's Paramount studios.
Viacom gained its USA Networks stake through its 1994 acquisition of Paramount Communications. Seagram bought a one-third stake in late 1981. The two companies' stakes increased to 50 percent each in 1987 when a third partner, Time Inc., sold out. USA Network has 73 million cable and satellite subscribers. Sci-Fi Channel reaches 46 million. USA Network also operates channels in South America, Europe and Africa.
Kestutis Cerniauskas wrote that "a lot of people aren't using email. They are using fax. And it will be so a long time I suppose. And lots of telecoms have high international tariffs and bad lines (in Lithuania, i.e.). So Internet faxing for our company is a real cost-saver, and it is even faster. We aren't using the company you mentioned but FaxSav instead."
So it's you who's responsible for that Internet congestion ;-) But that's not the problem. From a technical point of view, and I am a technician by education, there could be nothing more pathetic and obscene than transmitting faxes over the Internet when you can do the same by sending either unformatted email, formatted email, or if you really want facsimiles using GIF, TIFF, or PNG. Sending faxes over the Internet, while you could achieve the same purpose with just a fraction of the overhead and the bandwidth, is certainly not just an absurd waste of bandwidth at the cost of others in fact, it's an outraging abuse. Services such as telephony, video and radio over the Internet maybe somewhat controversial for their use of bandwidth. But one has to admit that unlike fax, they cannot be directly replaced by other Internet services.
I am very much in favour of a total ban of fax transmissions over the Internet (of course, I know it's practically impossible.) Frankly, being an Internet user who pays pretty much for access to this network, I think it's not my obligation to subsidise any company whatsoever that can't even afford international calls. If you still want to use fax, that's your problem abusing the Internet to carry your traffic actually is something that makes me wanna puke my guts out. And as always, I mean this in the nicest possible way and do not intend to insult or hurt anybody. I love you all!