Sat-ND, 20.10.1997 Let there be light
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LAW & ORDER
The SatMex auction, part 56
New software via satellite
As expected: Hughes "takes over" AT&T
Without this piece of news, there would've been no Sat-ND today because the rest is pretty boring (except for the kapusta bit at the end.) Anyway, the U.S. Defense Department today confirmed that the Army's Miracl laser was tested against the MSTI-3 satellite on Friday night, U.S. Mountain Standard Time.
The test, which was approved by Defense Secretary Cohen, was delayed several times owing to bad weather. So far, nothing is known of the results if there were any. As planned, two beams were fired, the first of less than one second duration (in order to lock on to the satellite) and the second of about 10 seconds (in order to kill it.)
The test drew some criticism after its announcement, which led officials to play it down. For instance, the Pentagon said that the test was "not an offensive attempt to destroy satellite but to test whether brief, intense beams of laser light could damage its ability to operate."
As mentioned frequently, there would be no sense in physically destroying the satellite as the resulting debris would put other satellites at risk, including U.S. ones. Apart from that, the satellite is of course as dead as a doornail (should the test have been a success.)
By the way: my favourite news agency noted that the purpose of the test was to "illuminate" the satellite. Come on, they could have done that cheaper by attaching some light bulbs to it.
It's one of those stories which come up at least once a week and never seem to end. What's worse, one never seems to get the full details, just bits and pieces. What a news nightmare.
However, the bidding for Mexican satellite system SatMex seems to have come to an end. Last Friday, three bids were received:
Mexico's Telefonica Autrey along with Loral Space and Communications,
Mexican mining giant Grupo Peñoles and Hughes-backed PanAmSat,
GE Americom with ControlSat, a unit of Megacable Comunicaciones de Mexico.
According to Infolatina, the Peñoles/Hughes bid was expected to be supported by Multivision, one of the country's TV groups. It had previously been reported that neither Multivision, Televisa, nor TV Azteca were participating in the bidding and instead wanted to until the winner was known. The reason for the Multivision move was that the Solidarid satellites, together with Morelos 1 comprising the SatMex system, would be used to broadcast 150 additional digital TV channels.
DiviCom Inc., a leading provider of digital video networking solutions for broadcast, announced that SatCom Systems has purchased a complete DiviCom compression, multiplexing and data injection system for new satellite services. SatCom's service is targeted at television programmers and business television customers in North and Central America.
The SatCom Systems network is DVB-compliant and makes use of existing integrated receiver/decoders (IRDs) installed by Tee-Comm under its AlphaStar service. After AlphaStar went off the air, SatCom relied on DiviCom to create a new headend to leverage the IRDs. DiviCom supplied its standard compression system to successfully transmit an MPEG-2 signal to the existing IRDs.
"We were able to help SatCom get its former AlphaStar customers back on the air without going out in the field to retrieve the AlphaStar IRDs," said Tom Lookabaugh, senior vice president and general manager, DiviCom Inc.
A critical piece to making the system work was SatCom's ability to update the IRD software over-the-air. Ordinarily, engineers would have to go out into the field and exchange or update each IRD by hand. Because DiviCom's data injection platform broadcasts MPEG-2/DVB signals, SatCom was able to update the IRD software remotely by downloading the necessary code over the satellite to the IRDs with minimal downtime. This operation would not have been possible using other configurations, and SatCom was spared the time and expense of replacing IRDs in the field.
DiviCom's compact MediaView MV10 encoders form the core of SatCom's "headend/uplink" system. Customers' programs will be uplinked at Pittsburgh International Teleport to the Telstar 5 satellite. SatCom is launching its digital satellite service in the fourth quarter of this year.
By the way: software updates via satellite are quite common in Europe. However, as no-one really news which software features will be added or scrapped, true aficionados usually disconnect their digital receivers from the dish until they know what the update will do to their boxes.
Starlight Networks, which sees itself as "the world leader in video networking solutions for corporate intranets," announced a partnership with Samsung who will resell Starlight's StarWorks and StarCast products.
Both provide video-on-demand and IP multicast capabilities for enterprise environments. The deal combines Samsung's leading hardware and Starlight's streaming media software to provide one-hand solutions for organisations and institutions like the Korean School District, which is currently implementing a massive undertaking to upgrade its public schools with multimedia technology.
The AT&T Board of Directors announced the election of C. Michael Armstrong as chairman and chief executive officer, effective November 1.
Armstrong succeeds Robert E. Allen, who after serving in the role since 1988 said last July that he planned to retire when his replacement was named. Armstrong, 59, was chairman and CEO of Hughes Electronics Corporation.
Hughes Electronics Corp and its parent company General Motors Corp said they elected Hughes Vice Chairman Michael Smith, who is the brother of General Motors chairman John Smith Jr., as chairman and chief executive officer of the satellite company and Charles Noski as president.
One of the recent Sat-ND headlines read "Loads of kapusta." Alex R Mackow wrote:
"Hey I like kapusta! Especially kwasna kapusta (without the caraway seeds though, never did like it like that), or pierogi filled with kapusta!"
Actually, I agree, especially with his comment on caraway. Should you wonder what kapusta is, well, show some initiative and find out yourself. Don't expect me to tell you <ggg>
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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