Sat-ND, 04.05.98

Sat-ND, 04.05.98

Sat-ND, 04.05.98
Light on the waves

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Boeing to become Ellipso system integrator
Orbital invests in ECCO instead of Ellipso
Transponder give and take
Pay-Per-View copy protection


Boeing to become Ellipso system integrator

The Boeing Company is to become the system integrator for design, development, construction and deployment of the Ellipso global mobile satellite communications system, Mobile Communications Holdings Inc. (MCHI) said in a statement.

The estimated contract value for the space and ground segments, including launch services and system operations, is more than US$1.4 billion. Up to 300 Boeing employees will work on the project, which will primarily be based in Southern California.

Boeing will be an equity partner and systems integrator contractor with MCHI for Ellipso, which will focus on telephone service for new markets world-wide, but will also provide digital data transfer, fax, paging, voice mail, messaging and geopositioning services.

As a systems integrator contractor, Boeing will use its capability as a large systems producer and integrator to achieve a low-cost satellite-based communication system. The Ellipso space segment, including satellites and launch services, will be managed by the Boeing Satellite and Ground Control Systems organisation located in Seal Beach, California/USA. Besides providing the tracking telemetry and command system, Boeing also will perform at least two launches.

Boeing is also a main contractor for and investor in the small-LEO system Teledesic. Recent reports (Sat-ND, 24.3.98) suggest that Boeing slashed its Teledesic workforce by nearly two thirds. A year after Boeing won the prime contract, it reportedly has yet to determine how and where the 288-satellite system will be built. Boeing executives were quoted as saying the company remained strongly committed to Teledesic.

The Ellipso system

The MCHI Ellipso constellation has a unique, patented elliptical orbit configuration using two complementary sub-constellations totalling 17 satellites, one of which will be an on-orbit spare. The elliptical configuration tailors satellite coverage to match population distribution. Ellipso also offers greater capacity during daylight hours with sun-synchronous orbits that can be adjusted to the time of day.

Use of elliptical orbits requires fewer satellites and launch services, reducing total system costs by two to four times that of competitors. Due to its efficient design and thus low per-minute cost, the Ellipso system is strategically positioned to meet the needs of developing countries, small businesses, and "middle market" users world-wide.

MCHI, whose name will change to Ellipso Inc., expects the launch of the first satellite in 2001. The company has a stake of about 70 percent in the project but come become diluted with new investors.

MCHI also has applied to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a license to launch a second global satellite system in the recently opened 2-GHz band. MCHI expected that the new Ellipso 2G will have two to three times the capacity of the initial Ellipso system.

The past

On August 5, 1997, Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that it had been selected for a major new contract by Mobile Communications Holdings, Inc. (MCHI), to act as the prime contractor for the development and manufacture of 17 satellites for the Ellipso system. "As part of a multi-faceted agreement that includes an equity investment in MCHI, Orbital will design, develop, construct and test the first-generation Ellipso satellites," the Orbital's statement said. Today, Orbital announced that it has decided to terminate discussions regarding a potential investment in the Ellipso satellite network and a satellite procurement agreement with Mobile Communications Holdings, Inc.

Last November, MCHI selected Lockheed Martin Management & Data Systems (M&DS) to provide analysis and design specifications for the Ellipso system, which includes the space, ground and user-terminal segments as well as the associated segment interfaces.

Ellipso: http://www.ellipso.com/

Boeing: http://www.boeing.com/

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Orbital invests in ECCO instead of Ellipso

Constellation Communications International N.V. and Orbital Sciences Corp. signed a letter of intent whereby Orbital will manufacture and launch the first 12 of CCI's low-Earth-orbit satellites, known as ECCO Equatorial.

Under the terms of the preliminary agreement, Orbital will receive a contract, valued at approximately US$450 million, to serve as the space segment prime contractor for ECCO's initial equatorial satellite network, including both the construction and launch services for 12 low-orbit communications satellites. At the same time, Orbital will also become a major investor in the ECCO project, with the company providing up to US$150 million in equity capital and vendor financing.

The 12 satellites to be manufactured by Orbital represent the first of two phases of satellites authorised for CCI in July 1997 by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The satellites will be capable of providing telephony services to more than one million subscribers located within a band spanning the Earth between 23 degrees north latitude and 23 degrees south latitude. This area includes nearly one-quarter of the world's population living in a total of 75 countries, such as Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia and dozens more in Asia, South and Central America, Africa and the Middle East.

Later, in a phased deployment of 35 additional satellites, the ECCO system will be expanded to provide continuous global coverage using the same satellite, ground systems and telephone technologies.

Orbital plans to complete construction and begin launching the 12 initial satellites in late 2000, with the full equatorial network in service by mid-2001. CCI expects to announce additional ECCO programme partners for ground segment development and regional service operations in the coming months, while Orbital anticipates completing the satellite and launch vehicle industrial team in the near future.

Constellation Communications Inc. (CCI) is a Delaware company formed in 1991 with headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia/USA. In 1997, CCI established CCI International N.V. in the Netherlands Antilles to design, build and launch the ECCO satellite system.

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Transponder give and take

The future use of the orbital positions 110°W and 119°W is still unclear. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved Tempo Satellite's request to extend its license at 119 degrees--under the condition that it does not execute its existing lease agreement with PrimeStar until the FCC decides on 110°W.

Sounds complicated, and it is. PrimeStar Inc. has a lease agreement to use 11 transponders on a Tempo satellite at 119°W. The license for those transponders was set to expire on May 1, unless Tempo had a commercial service in operation (which it hasn't.)

Operating a satellite isn't just enough, the FCC stated in its decision: "The term, 'in operation,' does not mean merely having launched a satellite; it means providing service to the public."

The FCC now extended the deadline until 60 days (other sources: six months) after it issues a decision on PrimeStar's request to take control of 28 transponders at 110°W. Tempo, the satellite operating subsidiary for TCI Satellite Entertainment, during that period must not lease the transponders to PrimeStar, which plans to use them for a high power service.

Primestar still has to determine use for both slots. Last month, it suspended its efforts to launch a high-power service at 119 degrees at the FCC's request.

In a related decision, the FCC has reclaimed 11 Tempo transponders at 166°W, stating that Tempo had failed to make any progress toward launching a service there. The frequencies are likely to be auctioned.

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Pay-Per-View copy protection

The Brave New World of digital television brings Pay-Per-View movies and events to an increasing number of homes all around the world. Why not record them on your VCR? Because it won't work. The total number of digital set-top decoders shipped with the capability to provide Macrovision Pay-Per-View (PPV) Copy Protection now exceeds 10 million, the company said in a statement.

"This milestone indicates a substantial world-wide copy protection infrastructure is now in place to allow Hollywood movie studios and system operators to protect digital pay-per-view programmes from unauthorised copying," the statement said.

According to Macrovision, more than 20 system operators throughout the world are deploying copy protection-equipped digital set-top decoders. In addition, operators such as PerfecTV! Japan, Singapore Telecom, and Hongkong Telecom are applying copy protection to their PPV movies and events.

Macrovision's PPV copy protection technology is integrated into digital set-tops distributed by major DBS and cable operators throughout North America, South America, Europe, and the Far East. System operators deploying copy protection-ready set-top decoders in their networks include such companies as Astro, DF1/Premiere [Germany; their joint venture is pending regulatory approval,] DirecTV Japan, DirecTV USA, EchoStar, BSkyB [UK,] Galaxy Latin America, Hongkong Telecom, PerfecTV! Japan [now SkyPerfecTV,] Primestar, Singapore Telecom, Sky Latin America, TCI, Tele Danmark, Time Warner, and Via Digital [Spain.]

Macrovision: http://www.macrovision.com/

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Dirk Rauser sent in this one, asking "You would not call this explicit sexual content, would you?"Not at all, it's all in your head! But remember that smoking causes lung cancer as well as all kinds of other nasty diseases. Very good joke anyway!

A chicken and an egg were lying in bed together. The chicken was smoking a cigarette while the egg was looking extremely pissed off.

"Well, I guess that answers the age-old question," said the egg.

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Copyright 1998, Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved. Peter C Klanowski shall not be liable for errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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