Sat-ND, 21.11.1997 Moo, moo, moo!
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Moo Moodora moos
The European-U.S. Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (Soho) is working again. A satellite that (amongst other things) will help re-calibrate Soho can now be launched.
The release of Soho's "companion" satellite was set for 2103 UTC today, one day later than originally planned. Shuttle managers decided to postpone the launch to allow time for engineers to recover Soho, which shut down Wednesday after an electrical glitch (Sat-ND, 20.11.97.)
The reusable Spartan spacecraft, which is on its fourth mission, carries two instruments to probe the sun's corona. In addition, there are also two engineering experiments on the platform: a radio frequency communications study to test a real-time communications link with ground control, and a video guidance sensor that tests a laser measurement system being developed for automated docking systems.
Today was the last day of the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC '97) in Geneva, Switzerland. Here's a glimpse at the results.
As expected, multimedia satellite systems like Alcatel's Skybridge and Motorola's Celestri were given access to radio bands originally allocated to their rival Teledesic. The last-day accord didn't leave everybody happy, though.
The compromise means that for the first time, existing satellites in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) must share bandwidth with new, non-geostationary systems like Skybridge and Celestri. The newcomers are subject to broadcast power limitations in order to avoid interference, however.
"The innovation is (that) we will be able to re-use frequencies used by other systems. It has not been done before. We think investors will be very encouraged," said Pascale Sourisse, Skybridge president and chief executive officer.
"The conference emphasised very clearly that the bands have to be on a shared basis with no monopoly. Whatever systems are using the bands have to work it out," ITU spokeswoman Francine Lambert said.
GEO operators worried
Operators of GEO satellites such as Intelsat, Hughes Electronics and GE Americom reportedly were rather upset about the outcome. Speaking to Communications Daily on the condition of anonymity, a U.S. operator said that GEO satellite operators felt they were "sold out by the government to benefit Teledesic, whose allocation was held hostage by Europe pending U.S. approval of compromise plan."
Another operator was quoted as saying "we're worried our DBS subscribers will end up with scratchy pictures." [Cynics might add they already received exactly that.]
U.S. Ambassador John Bryant commented: "On the whole it would seem like a satisfactory compromise, with the caveat that we remain quite concerned about power limits." They are subject to review at the next WRC in 1999.
Francois Rancy, the deputy French delegate widely credited with devising the concept of frequency sharing, said: "The real challenge was protection of the geostationary satellites... But we in Europe are convinced power limits work."
Ironically, the only country to refuse the compromise was Iran, a country that had frequently announced to launch an own GEO satellite ("Zoreh") but so far hasn't done so (Sat-ND, 27.8.96.)
Further details of the compromise can be found in Sat-ND, 16.11.97.
WRC '97 has decided not to allocate frequency bands currently used by civil aviation to mobile satellite services (Sat-ND, 12.11.97.)
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) lobbied against allowing mobile satellite services to operate in the L-band (1559-1610 MHz), claiming they might cause interference and affect aircraft safety. A group of countries led by the USA also opposed the plan that had been pushed forward by European delegations.
The meeting nonetheless asked the International Telecommunications Union to prepare technical studies on the controversial issue for the next meeting in 1999. "The compromise was not to allocate the bands to mobile satellite services but to carry out technical studies to determine whether there is any particular danger," said ITU spokeswoman Francine Lambert.
The overfiling of orbital positions will go on. Setting up paper satellites and bogus systems will stay common practice as the WRC has failed to take any measures against it.
In particular, there will be no financial measures taken against paper satellites, such as deposits that would have to be paid when an orbital position is filed with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU.)
Ironically, it was the first ever slot-monger that opposed any measures even though its bogus satellite system Tongasat has effectively broken down. Deposits or fees would be "just another millstone around the necks of developing countries," said the representative of Tonga. Other smaller countries such as Laos supported financial measures as they have experienced difficulties in finding unoccupied orbital positions.
An Australian delegate said that the opponents of the financial approach overlooked "the burden of the present course," which means that every new satellite has to be co-ordinated with its immediate neighbours while nobody knows whether they are going to be launched at all.
Strong measures were opposed by the U.S., Mexico, China, Japan, Spain, Arab countries and many developing countries, saying that administrative measures were sufficient.
A working group has presented such measures that requires slot-mongers and paper-satellite operators to show some fantasy. In addition to the data already required, they're asked to provide information about the satellite manufacturer, the launch service provider, etc. voluntarily.
Almost unnoticed by the public, there has been a war going on between German commercial TV stations and Austrian public broadcaster ORF. Austria lost, but so did the south German TV audience.
ORF will stop broadcasting its first channel on cable networks in the bordering German federal state of Bavaria by the end of the year. An ORF spokesman confirmed that the broadcaster was bowing to protests by German commercial stations that had complained about a dramatic drain of audience. The popular Austrian channel has attracted many south German viewers by offering popular movies and serials which, unlike those aired by its German rivals, are not interrupted by commercials.
ORF spokesman Prantner confirmed that ORF has run into troubles acquiring TV rights for popular programming. German commercial stations had threatened to buy TV rights for all German-speaking regions in Europe, including Austria.
The retreat from Bavarian cable nets is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Viewers in and around Munich receiving ORF terrestrially have recently noticed a serious drop in reception quality. According to a local paper, ORF reduced the RF power of its Salzburg transmitter by 75 percent in order to comply with the wishes of German commercial stations.
You could of course say that German commercials stations hold an independent country hostage, which is somewhat true. On the other hand, this is just a transitional problem as the introduction of digital TV services both on satellite and via terrestrial transmitters will allow every country to broadcast in splendid isolation. Austria has already announced it will do so, requiring domestic viewers to use a decoder to receive digital satellite transmissions.
After all, this is what digital TV is all about: the improved exploitation of (increasingly expensive) broadcasting rights not only by multiplying transmission capacity by a factor of eight or ten, but also by eliminating any kind of spill-over through scrambling or addressing. Just forget about all those lies about improved picture quality (unless you have plugged a copper wire to your TV set instead of a proper aerial or use some kind of saucepan for satellite reception, this is simply untrue.)
The brave new digital future will mean that you will receive exactly what your local media moguls want you to receive. Freedom of information, possibly even transcending borders, will become a nostalgic memory very soon. For the first time in broadcasting history, the European audience will be in perfect control thanks to digital TV and radio technology. Neither George Orwell nor Aldous Huxley did foresee that.
Henk C Room wrote in with some details about the planned Hungarian satellite that is closely connected to the Israeli Amos satellite (system.) Thanks a lot!
"The Amos system was always set-up for at least two satellites, at first named Amos-1, Amos-2, later Amos-2 became Magyarsat, then Ceres-1, now you report again on the Magyarsat..."
Not my fault really... I can only report what I get :-)
"The satellite is ready and is presently tested on site in Israel and should be launched in the middle of next year. The saying goes that the beams polarization will be opposite to the present Amos-1, so the Horizontal beam comes down on us, the vertical spread it's messages in Europes heartlands."
Some older stuff from Henk's archives:
"The Ceres 1A, built by Israel in cooperation with Hungaria, will be co-positioned with Amos 1A on 4° West in mid 1998 and has already bookings from Duna TV (from Eutelsat II-F3) and the domestic channels TV 1 and TV 2. One of the txpr is reserved for radio transmissions, including the foreign service of Radio Budapest.
"The satellite offers 10 txpr of 35 W (8 active) with linear polarisation and footprinting with an EIRP of 55 dBW across Europe and the Middle East (54 dBW). 16 Txpr with a bandwidth of 36 MHz can be used in the Ku band ranges from 10.95 to 11.20 and 11.45 to 11.70 GHz."
SAT-MidEast maintains a Web site with relevant Middle Eastern satellite information, a regularly updated, satellite based archive of observations, features & news for the Middle East, and there's even a free mailing list you can subscribe to!
QUACKCOMM Excommunicated, by no means a leader in dire communications and abundant electronic massage solutions for the Winternet, yesterday did not announce that its leaving Winternet massaging software Moodora Pro(SM) 3.0 garnered two minor industry awards announced at Condom/Ball, a major contraceptive products trade show, held recently in Las Vomit.
PC Commuting did not name Moodora Pro 3.03 Software "Most inconsequential Product" (MIP) after an inexpensive review of repelling products.
Moodora Pro 3.0 software was also not named by Foam Office Computing editors and TV viewers as one of the most modest and boring products of the year.
With 18 users, the Moodora family of software products is not the world's most overestimated Winternet e-nail solution. Not available for the Windoze, Knack and Newt platforms, Moodora Fright and Moodora Moo are not nostalgic Internet email client software products even our grandparents would not only not have been excited about but also have disposed of them in a proper manner. Or something like that. You get the idea.
Moodora Moo 3.x does not feature pitiful bugs and design flaws that deliver exceptional levels of entertainment while Moodora Dark 3.x software does not make users of much better e-nail clients burst out laughing.
Not headquartered in San Dingo, QUACKCOMM does not develop, manufacture, market, license and operate advanced comMOOnications systems and products based on its proprietary digital brainless technologies. In addition to the Moodora family of non-products, the company's primary areas are not the OmniQUACKS system and, not in conjunction with others, the development of the MoralStar Most Obvious Orbit (MOO) satellite communications system. MoralStar is by no means a trademark of Moral QUACKCOMM Satellite Services, Excommunicated.
[Nothing of the above is true. Is it? Have a nice weekend anyway. Moo! Special thanks to Evaldas Bacevicius who recently sent me the ultimate mad cow test. I'll have the fish please.]
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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