TS News - AFRTS Going Digital

TELE-satellit News, 16 August 1996

AFRTS Going Digital
  ATLANTA, Georgia, USA, 96/08/16 (TS) -- The Armed Forces Radio and
Television Service (AFRTS) is to replace its worldwide B-MAC feeds with
digital signals so it can distribute more channels around the world. The
organization has chosen the Scientific-Atlanta PowerVu digital video
compression system to expand its network which delivers programming to
American military personnel and their family members deployed around the world. 

  The more than US$5.5 million fixed price contract is part of a total
contract awarded to Scientific-Atlanta which permits AFRTS to exercise
options for additional equipment in the future. The combination of limited
funding for satellite transmission costs and a desire to enhance its program
offerings to American service personnel prompted AFRTS to convert its
operations to digital transmission using the Scientific-Atlanta PowerVu system.

  The initial portion of the worldwide satellite television network is
scheduled for operation in the spring of 1997. "Scientific-Atlanta's B-MAC
analog transmission and signal protection system has served us well for the
last 12 years, but two years ago we started looking at how we could, in the
same transponder space, deliver more than one television signal and 4 radio
signals we were sending out over B-MAC," said Melvin Russell, director of AFRTS.

  The solution provided by the PowerVu MPEG 2/DVB digital video compression
system supports all of the applications identified by AFRTS.  These
applications are:
    --  Six television signals
    --  Six stereo radio signals
    --  Two monophonic radio signals
    --  Utility data circuits
    --  T-1 circuit for file transfers

  Russell said that many of the lessons AFRTS learned using the
Scientific-Atlanta B-MAC system will carry over to the PowerVu system.  "The
repair and return system we developed with Scientific-Atlanta has worked
very well.  When you're trying to get replacement receivers to hundreds of
sites in 142 countries, you better have a good plan.  Scientific-Atlanta's
cooperation has allowed us to stay on the air in some very remote places by
getting replacements to us very quickly.

  PowerVu installations will begin in the fall of 1996 at March Air Reserve
Base (ARB), CA; Brewster, WA; Whitinsville, MA; and Usingen, Germany.
Programs will originate at March ARB and are broadcast to the other three
sites where they are uplinked for distribution to AFRTS locations around the
world.  AFRTS uses transponders on the GE SATCOM SN2, INTELSAT - 707
(Atlantic), INTELSAT -702 (Pacific), and EUTELSAT II - F2 satellites.

            PowerVu Digital Television Network Applications

    --  Six television signals
    The six channels of television programming will provide some much-welcomed
options for AFRTS viewers abroad in the 142 countries it serves.  Currently,
with only one channel of analog programming available, viewers are in a "what
you see is what you get" environment.  With the new PowerVuT system, viewers
around the world will be able to use an electronic programming guide to select
from among a wide range of programs on multiple channels.  The new offerings
    --  A full-time news and sports channel from all the U.S. networks
    --  The Spectrum channel, an alternative television option with
         classic movies, mini-series, A&E, Lifetime, Discovery Channel, and
         Public Broadcasting-type programming
    --  Four time-shifted entertainment channels, one each for the Americas,
         Europe, and Pacific regions, and a separate channel for Korea
    Each region will get the news and sports channel and the Spectrum channel
plus a time-shifted entertainment channel designed to provide programming at
convenient times within the region.

    --  Six stereo and two mono radio signals
    Music fans in the AFRTS service areas will also enjoy new options from the
PowerVu system's digital audio transmission features.  The new digital radio
service will deliver a number of stations for country, jazz, classical, rock,
adult contemporary, National Public Radio (NPR), news and sports, as well as
some entertainment and talks shows.
    --  Data circuits
    A separate data channel will be used for transmitting a variety of
communications to AFRTS stations.

    --  T-1 circuit for file transfers
    In addition, to speed the delivery of Stars & Stripes newspapers, the
network's T-1 circuit will be used to deliver electronic files of the newspaper
to regional centers.  There, the paper can be quickly printed for more timely

    --  Contract options
    The contract also contains an option for providing entertainment and
information to Navy ships.  "If the Navy obtains the funding, we can use the
PowerVu system to deliver TV to its ships at sea.  The plan calls for two
television channels, two stereo music channels, a mono news and sports radio
service, and a data circuit to a newspaper for ship on-board printing," said
Melvin Russell, director of AFRTS.

(c)TELE-satellit 1996. All rights reserved.

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