Sat-ND, 12.11.1997 Dütt un dat
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Russian bank satellite to be launched
SkyBridge's new investors
WorldSpace closes ground segment gap
LAW & ORDER
LEOs may affect aviation security
Pirate TV revival
BBC in Benelux
The Central Bank of Russia will soon have its own satellite its launch was expected today, 8 p.m. local time, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
Until now, the data network that links the Central Bank its 1,000+ regional branches to an accounting centre in Moscow, is using capacity on Inmarsat satellites. The low-Earth orbit satellite Kupon is expected to take over the data traffic once in orbit. The Central Bank also plans to use it to create its own global accounting and information system.
The 2.5-tonnes satellite Kupon will be launched by aboard a Proton rocket. The Lavochkin research and production association in cooperation with ten more Russian research centres, design institutes and enterprises designed the satellite and its ground equipment, reported Itar-Tass. The spacecraft's operational lifetime is three years.
France's Alcatel Alsthom said five more companies have joined its 64-satellite broadband communications project SkyBridge.
Alcatel's new partners are Canada's Spar Aerospace Ltd; Aerospatiale of France; Belgium's Ste Regionale d'Investissements de Wallonie; as well as Mitsubishi Electric Corp and Sharp Corp of Japan. The initial investors in the Alcatel-led consortium are Toshiba Corp and Loral Space & Communications Corp.
Financial details were not disclosed, but the deals are not necessarily just about money. Spar Aerospace, for instance, said in a statement it would supply sub-systems to SkyBridge's satellites. Sharp announced it would play an active role in areas including the design, development and sales of user terminals and parts.
SkyBridge will start in the second half of 2001. Services will not be available directly but through local telecommunications operators and service providers.
This will lead you nowhere: http://www.skybridge.com/
http://www.mitsubishi.co.jp/ (I like the autumn leaves on their home page.)
Up to now, WorldSpace has most segments for its planned digital satellite radio system in place. They have the satellites, and they have the receivers listeners will have to use to tune in.
There still has been a missing link, though. How do broadcasters get their signal onto the satellites? Certainly not by using full-blown ground stations. One of the advantages of the WorldSpace System is that broadcasters will save money even when comparing satellite to terrestrial transmissions.
The concept used to reduce the cost calls for Processed Feeder Link Stations (PFLS.) They feed so-called Regional Operations Centres with the programming. Signals are combined there and passed on to ground stations. (If I remember correctly, broadcasters originally were told they could uplink to the satellites themselves utilising small-aperture dishes.)
WorldSpace has selected Globecomm Systems Inc. to design, develop and deliver the Feeder Link Stations. The company's press release unfortunately offered no technical details, and neither does WorldSpace's Web site. There are some ifs and buts instead: "WorldSpace and Globecomm Systems have a present intent to enter into a [US$5.7 million] contract under which Globecomm will provide ground segments for WorldSpace upon satisfactory completion of certain terms" which were, of course, not disclosed in Globecomm's statement.
The first WorldSpace satellite is slated for launch in June 1998 with a second set to launch in December 1998 and a third set to launch in June 1999. Broadcast operations are scheduled to commence in December, 1998. What's also relatively new: the planned WorldSpace portable radios will also receive short-wave AM and FM broadcasts.
The upcoming deluge of satellite-based services may have its first victim: aviation and nautical security. At the current world administrative radiocommunication conference (WARC) in Geneva, Switzerland, there's been a clash between operators of planned low-Earth orbit satellite systems and organisations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as well as the International Maritime Organization (IMO.)
The row is about frequencies that are already in use. Low-Earth orbit (LEO) systems such as Iridium, Globalstar, Celestri and Teledesic have set an eye on frequencies between 1 and 3 GHz that up to now are used by commercial aviation pilots to communicate with control towers as wells as ships' distress and emergency calls.
The U.S.-backed LEO ventures (I'm not aware of any without at least some U.S. participation) have submitted drafts that, in their view, would allow for the sharing of these airwaves without endangering flight or maritime operations.
There have since been heated discussions, and there seem to be differences between the three regions the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) knows Europe-Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific.
An IATA official reportedly said that air traffic would double in the next ten years. He said that to keep up security standards, they needed all the frequency bandwidth possible. No problem: if the meeting ends without a consensus. In that case, the status quo will continue.
Remember the golden days of offshore radio? Neither do I, but the idea is still alive. An Estonian company plans to set up a pirate TV station, covering Estonia and Finland from a vessel in the Baltic.
Zoom TV, as the venture is dubbed, will not be available terrestrially, though. The signal will be distributed via satellite, and the operators even think it will be available on cable networks as well.
The broadcast vessel will be positioned in international waters just for one reason, and that is (as with the offshore radio stations) to circumvent any national legislation. According to Estonian news agency ETA, the backers of Zoom TV (including a Monaco-based "Marcel Oswald Trust") will invest US$3 million into the venture and expect advertising revenues of US$2.5 million in its first year of operation. Quite optimistic.
The history of European offshore radio should be proof enough that in the end those ventures have no chance. If you can't get hold of them, threaten their advertising customers that should do the trick. Cash-strapped as they'll be, they'll crawl up the beaches waving the white flag.
Priyankur Roy has found the ultimate solution for recycling unwanted CDs.
I have found a useful way to recycle Microsoft and AOL CDs and diskettes that I keep getting in the mail. I turn the data side up and use them as coasters for water, tea or coffee, both at home and office. They really make very nice coasters. If they get dirty you can wash them very easily or throw away and use a brand shiny new one. Only down side is my friends stopped lending me music CDs as they are apprehensive about me using them as coasters by mistake.
Brilliant! I tried it, and it works. Stay tuned as Sat-ND will next week reveal the results of the first official AOL CD dishwasher test. I guess they will survive the Eco programme, but what will happen when I turn up the heat?
Sorry, here's more BBC-on-the-Continent stuff. Gerard van Eldik knows how the BBC gets onto Benelux cable networks.
The signals from both BBC1 and BBC2 are sent to the Benelux using a direct terrestrial link between the UK and Belgium. This signal is distributed by the Belgium and Dutch PTT towards all cable networks. This is done digitally.
The Belgium channels BRT1 and BRT2 are distributed to the Netherlands in the same way. No use of satellites here. Only cables.
Of course, what would be really interesting to know is what Benelux cable companies have to pay the BBC, and why programming isn't available on other cable networks in Europe. Does anybody have some ideas on that? And if Benelux cable networks don't pay, how come Auntie Beeb is wasting license fees like that? Just wondering.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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