Sat-ND, 17.12.1997 There's truth in lies
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TV5 dans les Etats-Unis (Sat-ND, 22.10.97)
TRW Inc. will as expected (Sat-ND, 9.9./7.11.97) dump its medium-earth orbit satellite system Odyssey and instead become the largest shareholder of ICO, one of its (former) competitors. TRW kills two birds with one stone: the deal also means the termination of patent litigation between the two satellite communications companies.
TRW is acquiring an equity interest in ICO Global Communications, a commercial offspring of Inmarsat. Under the agreement, TRW will receive approximately 7 percent of ICO's current outstanding shares, having a face value of US$150 million.
TRW plans to turn back the license it received from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for its Odyssey program to make available spectrum needed by other space-based, global personal communications services. TRW will focus its efforts on assisting ICO to obtain authority for its system to operate in the United States and elsewhere, a process already under way.
It is anticipated TRW will provide certain engineering expertise to ICO, and the companies will grant each other cross licenses for their respective patents relating to global telecommunications systems. Additionally, TRW will receive certain distribution rights in the United States for ICO products and services.
These agreements will permit a merging of the strengths of both ICO and TRW in implementing a medium-earth-orbit satellite system -- the most efficient orbit for high-performance global coverage, TRW said in a press release.
ICO Global Communications, based in London, was established in January 1995 as a private company to provide satellite-enabled personal mobile global communications services. Once complete, its network will be capable of connecting a subscriber using a pocket telephone to any telephone at any location around the globe.
Among the 55 international investors in ICO are Inmarsat, VSNL of India, Satellite Phone Japan, DeTeMobil of Germany, ICO Korea Co. Ltd., Beijing Marine Communications and Navigation Company, OTE of Greece, Singapore Telecom, and Etisalat of Kuwait.
The company has raised more than US$2 billion in equity commitments, has been constructing its system for more than two years, and is expected to provide service starting in the year 2000.
USELESS QUOTE: "Everything that can be invented has been invented." -- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
Industry Canada announced the awarding of contracts worth over C$65 Million for the development of innovative satellite communications technologies to five Canadian high-tech companies.
The contracts are being awarded through the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) Advanced Satellite Communications Program, a federal government program implemented in co-operation with the Communications Research Centre (CRC) of Industry Canada.
The companies being awarded contracts are
CAL, Ottawa: C$2 million to develop technology for satellite-to-satellite communications
COM DEV International Ltd., Cambrige, Ontario: C$9.2 million for the development of advanced payload subsystems designed for multi-media communications, including satellite antennas and optical intersatellite links
Nortel (Northern Telecom,) Ottawa: C$12.3 to develop technologies for low-cost user terminals designed for the next generation of broadband satellite communication systems
Spar Aerospace, Ste-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec: C$16.2 million will go to its Space Systems Division in Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec for the design, construction and testing of advanced satellite payload technologies
Telesat Canada, Gloucester, Ontario: C$7.8 million to support advanced satellite communications technologies aimed at networks and applications using existing satellite systems
These contracts will also include subcontractors in many other regions of the country.
In making the announcement, Industry Canada Minister Manley said that "each of these contracts will help to strengthen the competitive advantage Canada's high-tech industry currently has on the growing international advanced satellite communications market. The investment will also help to ensure that all Canadians are provided access to and benefit from a vast array of high-speed, multi-media products and services."
USELESS FACT: 0.3% of all road accidents in Canada involve a moose. [Moo!]
According to a market research report released by Pioneer Consulting of Cambridge, Massachusetts, titled "Satellite Data Networks: The Internet's Next Frontier" over US$76 billion will be invested in broadband satellite systems.
Is claims that satellite manufacturers will reap the benefits of new space technologies and rapidly expanding demand for broadband data services in the global telecommunications market. Over the next decade, a plethora of satellites will be deployed to serve global data markets, particularly Internet-based data. New spectrum released in the Ka- and "millimeter wave" bands has created a significant market opportunity for satellite systems that can offer both broadcast and interactive data services.
"Because the nature of satellite services erase the relationship between cost and distance, these services are well positioned to foster globalisation of telecommunications," said Scott Clavenna, Senior Analyst at Pioneer. [This relationship has already been erased. Just an example: when I access any non-domestic Internet site from my place, traffic is routed over the USA not because it's closer to my place, which it isn't after all, but because the U.S. capacity my provider uses is just cheaper. Internet traffic routing is based upon cost and unfortunately not upon distance as it should be.]
The study predicts the broadband satellite systems market will expand dramatically over the forecast period (1998-2010), reaching a total of US$76 billion invested by 2010. The satellite systems market includes capital expenditures for space and ground segments, including the construction cost of the satellites and the respective launch, launch vehicle service, launch insurance, and associated ground equipment costs. Pioneer predicts that by 2010 broadband satellite systems will serve over 36 million subscribers globally, generating over US$77 billion in annual revenues.
The report is available at a cost of US$4,000. [Hey, don't buy it, send me the money instead and become a sponsor!]
Pioneer Consulting <http://www.pioneerconsulting.com/>
USELESS FACT: In Baltimore, USA, it is illegal to wash or scrub a sink, regardless of how dirty it is.
France's state-owned Aerospatiale will deliver the third satellite for Spain's domestic satellite system Hispasat.
Other bidders for the contract were Matra-Marconi and Hughes. Aerospatiale will build Hispasat 1C within 23 months and also supply the necessary ground control facilities. Alcatel Espace will supply the 24-transponder telecommunications payload, whose total cost is FF500 million francs.
USELESS FACT: Married men in France use more cosmetics than their wives.
India's Department of Ocean Development (DOD) plans to launch its first satellite to stare at the water next year.
The satellite will collect data forecasts for fishing, ship routing and coastal pollution monitoring. It will be equipped with a colour camera that will monitor phytoplankton, pollution, etc. and with a multi-spectral scanning microwave radiometer. It will measure the temperature of the sea's surface and study the interaction of the ocean an the atmosphere, which is expected to improve weather forecasts.
USELESS FACT: On the stone temples of Madura in southern India, there are more than 30 million carved images of gods and goddesses.
A German-built satellite that was to inspect the Russian space station Mir from the outside did not react to remote commands and had to be abandoned.
The 1-metre-long Inspector probe was built by Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa) as a maintenance tool for the planned international space station, the first parts of which are going to be put into orbit next year. (To my knowledge, the station will not be called Alpha, even though my favourite news agency keeps saying so.) The inspector would reduce costly and risky spacewalks by astronauts to carry out maintenance checks.
Of course it's very Un-German not to obey commands; nonetheless Detlef Wilde, leader of the Inspector project at Germany's Dasa, had to admit that "We were not successful... Even out of a failure you can learn something."
Somewhat gloating Russian officials, who in the past had a hard time explaining the mishaps of the decrepit Mir space station, noted that this time the problem was with Western technology.
The space station was now expected to perform a manoeuvre to retreat from Inspector in order to avoid a collision. "We are abandoning attempts to restore its functions. It will fly in orbit for a time and then gradually leave it," Mir flight director Vladimir Solovyov said. "Inspector did not have back-up systems like those on Mir. That was its weakness."
USELESS FACT: Average number of days a West German goes without washing his underwear: 7. [I wouldn't want to read any statistics about East Germans as far as that issue is concerned.]
The U.S. National Research Council said NASA needs to take stronger measures to protect the space shuttle and the proposed international space station from orbital debris.
The problem is: the stuff is already up there, and it consists not just of burnt-out rockets and defunct satellites. Even a flake of paint could cause serious damage, just because it could hit a shuttle or a space station at an enormous speed. Collision velocities with space junk can be as high as 35,000 km/h, while meteorites could smash the shuttle at speeds of up to 240,000 km/h.
At such speeds, the Council said, even small objects can buckle structural beams and send a damaging shockwave through the whole craft. A large object hitting the pressurised crew cabin could cause an intense flash of light, a decrease in pressure and a rapid internal fog. Eventually, the cabin would lose all its air.
As a matter of fact, there's not too much that can be done about it. With more space launches in the coming decades, even more space junk will be created, posing a risk to spacecraft operating in low Earth orbit. The risk of orbital collision will increase once the international space station is operational. The shuttle will dock at the station for long periods and be positioned in such a way that it would be more exposed to space debris, the Council's experts said.
NASA already had announced plans to strengthen the shielding of key parts of the shuttle to protect against catastrophic damage from impacts. A spokesman said the agency will analyse the report and take appropriate action. He noted NASA already has flown satellites and experiments designed to gather information on the effects of collisions in space.
USELESS FACT: If space debris already circling the globe continues to increase at its current rate, the chance that a space shuttle will collide with debris will increase to 1-in-10 flights by the year 2000.
And here's one of these famous unfinished stories that just leave me puzzled. Iranian news agency IRNA said today Iran had launched its "Jam-e Jam global TV network here Tuesday, simultaneous with the birth anniversary of Imam Mahdi (a.s.), the 12th Imam of the household of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him)."
First of all, I have no technical details about the satellite(s) used, so please don't ask. IRNA said the program offers "21 hours of Persian programs as well as three hours of English and Arabic broadcasts covering areas in Europe, North Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East and Persian gulf littoral states." Search and you will find.
It can be received, however, as Western news agencies have asked Iranians who live in Europe for the opinion on the channel. They said it appeared to be more liberal than domestic channels, although Iran's state broadcaster IRIB is also in charge of the new satellite channel.
IRNA added that a sum of RLS20 billion has been spent on the project, and of course, I don't have any idea how much that is in better-known currencies.
What makes this really puzzling is that there already is a similarly-called Iranian channel in the USA, Jaam-e Jam (note the difference in spelling.) It does not seem to be an oppositional channel, though.
JAAM-E-JAM TV Corp. <http://www.jaamejam.com/>
To make this a bit more balanced: Iran-e-Azad <http://www.iran-e-azad.org/english/index.html>
USELESS FACT: Rats damage structures, chew wiring and cause electrical fires, eat and urinate on human and animal food, and carry many diseases.
And that's it. NII Norsat International Inc. has finally given up all attempts to sell U.S. DTH reception equipment in Canada following the recent ruling of the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal (Sat-ND, 28.11.97.)
Norsat said in a press release it has settled the legal action which Express Vu Inc., TMN Networks Inc., The Family Channel Inc., and WIC Premium Television Ltd. initiated against it in June 1996.
Under the terms of the settlement, Norsat will discontinue importing and selling in Canada satellite systems designed to receive U.S.-originated Direct-to-Home (DTH) signals.
"We have reached an agreement which we believe is in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders," says Bruce Chapman, Norsat's President and CEO. "The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled against the importation and sale in Canada of U.S. DTH systems and we have a duty to abide by its decision. We look forward to working with Canadian DTH service providers to assist Canadian consumers in converting to a made in Canada solution."
USELESS FACT: Canada is an Indian word meaning "Big Village".
by Dr Sarmaz
Low-cost package deals bundling telephone and pay-TV services in the UK do not harm competition, the UK telecoms watchdog Oftel said today.
Director general Don Cruickshank said if the packages increase the proportion of homes taking pay television, it might help competition in that market. [Especially as there are so many pay-TV operators in the UK apart from Mr Murdoch, which neither depend upon his companies' services.]
But wait, Cruickshank also said Mr Murdoch's practice of supplying sports and film channels to satellite customers only if they subscribe to its own package of basic programming, could constitute a significant barrier to market entry for other providers of basic channel packages.
USELESS FACT: The first traffic light was installed in England in 1868 in front of the Houses of Parliament.
I read your article on the TV5 USA launch and just wish to correct the fact that it is not the first french network reaching the 50 states!
TeleFrance USA was broadcasting 4 hours of original french programming to around 875 cable system across the US between 1980 and 1984. The cable network was commercial and free. It when down because of the lack of support by the newly elected socialist government.
The distribution was insured by an organisation called Satellite Program Network which used this program as a flagship product. Amongst other affiliate was Manhattan cable on channel M. I was its chief engineer for its last 3 years of operation! I have been very active in distributing daily for 5 years the international French news from France 2 via 3 US satellite networks (International Channel, MEU, Scolla), to a number of PBS affiliates (WNYE-NY, WNVC-DC,LPB Louisiana,...) and a number of cable systems in major cities!
TV5 USA is not first! But we love it any way!
[Thanks for the correction, Paul. The article was based upon a press release, and funnily enough, in those texts every company is generally nothing but a world leader in revolutionary technologies, offering brand new services. I can't check all that claims, of course.]
USELESS FACT: Captain Kirk never said "Beam me up, Scotty," but he did say, "Beam me up, Mr. Scott".
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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