Via Satellite

Regional Roundup: September 2016

Top satellite industry news from around the world.

Beximco Communications Selects Content for RealVU DTH Platform

Beximco Communications, a joint venture of Beximco Holdings and GS Group has revealed its content strategy for RealVU, its recently established DTH platform. RealVU is the first official DTH service provider in Bangladesh, and uses the ABS 2 satellite to reach the entire country.

Revealed at the World Content Market conference held in Moscow, the RealVU package includes Discovery Networks, Sony Corporation, Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), Indiacast, Zee Entertainment Enterprise, Star India TV and others. In total, RealVU offers to its subscribers 105 digital channels, including five HD channels, for about $4.00 (BDT 300) per month. RealVU is working to increase the number of TV channels and HD offerings for its mega launch.

According to Beximco Communications, illegal DTH broadcasts more than 300 channels into Bangladesh, but often neglect the local channels.

NHK Distributor JIB Taps SES for HD Channel on Astra 19.2

Photo: SES

Japan International Broadcasting (JIB), the official distributor of NHK World TV for Japanese public broadcaster NHK, has signed a long-term agreement with SES to broadcast the 24/7 English-language news and information channel Free-to-Air (FTA) in HD across Europe. The transmission of NHK World TV in HD has already started via Astra 1KR at 19.2 degrees East, and the SD channel is currently simulcast to allow for a smooth transition from SD to HD quality.

According to SES, the number of HDTV homes in Europe has tripled over the past five years, with 78 percent of European satellite HDTV homes receiving their TV channels from SES.

Ursys Signs Capacity Deal with Optus Satellite

Optus Satellite has announced a new wholesale relationship with Ursys, a designer and provider of satellite based voice and data communications, specifically for complex networks in remote and rural areas.

Ursys will use dedicated satellite capacity on Optus’ D2 satellite, stationed at 152 degrees east, and will also have access to third party international satellite providers. In addition, Ursys will use Optus’ teleport facilities at Belrose, north of Sydney, and the wider Optus infrastructure.

Thuraya Supports First Telemedicine Expedition to K2

The first telemedicine expedition to the mountain K2 is underway, after successful trials in the Himalayas in March. The WiCis-Sports app, running on Thuraya’s SatSleeve+, will monitor the #K2Adventure16 Madison Mountaineering trip.

K2 Mountain.Photo: Maria Ly / Wikimedia Commons

The #K2Adventure16 project began June 12, and is set to reach the summit in mid-August. Garrett Madison is leading the team of 10, accompanied by porters from Pakistan and Sherpas from Nepal. One of the most remote places on Earth, with only 46 permits issued in 2016, K2 is the second highest and arguably the world’s most intimidating mountain.

Select adventurers will wear lightweight, breathable, Bluetooth-enabled garments featuring embedded or integrated sensors, under normal climbing gear. The sensors continuously monitor heart rate, oxygen saturation, skin temperature, geo-location, altitude, speed and bearing.

Panasonic, China Telecom Satellite Extend IFC Trial to Chinese Airlines

Panasonic Avionics and China Telecom Satellite (CTS) announced a one-year extension of their Ku-band In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) trial that will expand connectivity to several Chinese airlines. With the trial’s extension, all approved Chinese and international airlines can now select Panasonic’s global communications services.

Per terms of the license, more than 20 foreign airlines with more than 1,000 aircraft are expected to begin operating connected flights over Chinese airspace, with more in process.

SSTL Creating New LEO platform for Honeywell and UK Space Agency

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has signed a contract with Honeywell Aerospace to provide a variant of its SSTL 12 satellite platform for a technology demonstration mission. The platform, called Vesta, will test a new two-way Very High Frequency (VHF) Data Exchange System (VDES) payload for the exactEarth maritime satellite constellation. SSTL is providing the platform as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Honeywell and the U.K. Space Agency.

Vesta is a flagship project of the U.K.’s National Space Technology Program, funded through the U.K. Space Agency and managed via the Center for Earth Observation Instrumentation and Space Technology (CEOI-ST). The platform is a new configuration of the SSTL 12 bus, optimized for missions of between 3kg and 25kg. SSTL is manufacturing Vesta in its new NanoLab under a rapid-build schedule to meet a 2017 launch date. The Vesta platform will have three-axis pointing capability, a Single Event Upset (SEU) tolerant on-board computer, VxWorks operating system, and an S-band transmitter and receiver.

Turksat Tallies Two Dead, Three Injured in Terrorist’s Failed Coup Attempt

Turksat’s farewell service for Martyr Ahmed and Ali Ozsoy.Photo: Turksat

Turkey’s satellite and cable telecommunications company Turksat reported the loss of two personnel during the failed coup attempt July 15th.

Soldiers in the separatist plot, which Turkey identifies as part of the FETO/PDY under the leadership of Fethullah Gulen, attacked Turksat’s main campus located in Golbasi, Ankara. Ahmet Ozsoy and Ali Karsli perished in the attack.

“We express our condolences to their families, close relatives and friends, and our community,” Turksat said in a press statement. Three other personnel sustained injuries from the attack. Turksat said in the press statement that the three injured are no longer in critical condition.

Leaf Space Raises $1.1 Million for SmallSat Ground Station Network

Italian startup Leaf Space has raised $1.1 million to fund a telecommunication service dedicated specifically for small satellite operators. RedSeed Ventures, an Italian venture capital firm, led the investment round, along with a pool of private and institutional investors including Como Venture, Key Capital and PoliHub.

The company is currently involved in developing Leaf Line: a centralized satellite communication service to consist of 20 ground stations around the world.

ESA Establishes Laboratory for 3-D Printing and Advanced Manufacturing

The ESA-RAL Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory.Photo: ESA

The European Space Agency (ESA) has opened a new technical laboratory in the United Kingdom to further understand the capabilities of 3-D printing and other advanced manufacturing techniques for future space missions. Located at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Harwell, Oxfordshire, directly adjacent to ESA’s U.K. facility, the Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory has access to other facilities and expertise available on the Harwell Campus to assess new material processes, joining techniques and 3-D printing technologies. Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, involves building up parts layer-by-layer rather than machining away from bulk material.

Inmarsat, VT iDirect Form Joint R&D Team

Inmarsat and VT iDirect are forming a joint Research and Development (R&D) team, dubbed i2, to support the development of next generation satellite communications technologies. The new venture builds on collaboration between the two companies during the past four years, which includes the Global Xpress (GX) program.

The R&D project team will focus on the proof-of-concept and prototype phases for new satcom technologies. Inmarsat and VT iDirect will jointly assess the commercial potential of each new technology before the decision is taken to deploy it in the form of a new product or service.

Vocality and RSA Update Satellite-Based Air Traffic Communications in Brazil

Vocality and RSA Engineering have completed a replacement of the obsolete satellite-based communications system used for Air Traffic Control (ATC) voice and data services throughout Brazilian airspace. This satellite-based communications system provides almost all voice and data services to Brazilian Air Force Command (COMAER) through 111 stations installed throughout Brazil.

The new system also had to meet the increased capacity for the data load requirements that have grown exponentially since 2000. The use of Vocality’s next-generation technology, coupled with new satellite modems, provided approximately a 90 percent reduction in the satellite bandwidth used by each station. The updated system can now support up to 10 times more data, without increasing satellite bandwidth requirements. This resulted in an expected $5,000,000 Brazilian real savings in leased capacity from the PAME-RJ satellite bandwidth providers.

Latin America Gets First Fleet Xpress Demo

Inmarsat, Cobham Satcom, and MultiSAT–Globalsat Group, have hosted the first seminars in Latin America to demonstrate Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress service in the region. The companies conducted the seminars in Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico focusing on the maritime and offshore markets working in the Gulf of Mexico; and in Mazatlan, Mexico, targeting the industrial fishing sector operating in the Pacific Ocean.

Fleet Xpress demonstration in Mexico.Photo: Globalsat Group

Fleet Xpress uses Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) constellation to provide Ka-band connectivity to the maritime market, with FleetBroadband L-band service as backup. The demo used a Sailor 60 GX antenna from Cobham Satcom, and included streaming of live video content, as well as large file transfers and tests of latency and bandwidth.

During the seminars, Inmarsat also unveiled its latest Fleet One Global plan, which lets customers activate or deactivate the service as needed.

O3b and Ozonio Bring Broadband Connectivity to Brazilian City

O3b Networks, in partnership with regional distributor Ozonio, is providing satellite connectivity to the Brazilian city of Tefé, an interior Amazon-based city with more than 60,000 inhabitants located 500km from the regional capital of Manaus. The satellite solution has been active in the city of Tefé since early June. The O3b model proposed is based on the “pay as you grow” concept, allowing operators or SPs to buy the amount of megabits per second needed, then increasing that capacity over time as needed, paying a monthly fee.

Photo: Ruta BBVA

Hispasat Connects Ruta BBVA 2016 Trip in Mexico

Hispasat is providing satellite connectivity to the organizers of Ruta BBVA 2016 — a cultural exchange program designed to strengthen the ties between young Spaniards and Latin Americans of the Iberoamerican Community of Nations — which began its trip recently. Ruta BBVA 2016 participants will be traveling through Mexico to visit important archaeological sites of the Mayan civilization, as well as to learn about some of the social policies that address major problems currently faced by Yucatan society.

There, Hispasat will provide the organization and journalists with broadband internet access via satellite and IP telephone service, allowing them to broadcast information and transmit radio and video signals from Mexico.

HughesNet Satellite Internet Makes Debut in Brazil

Hughes has begun its first international deployment of its HughesNet consumer internet service outside of North America in Brazil. Using the Ka-band payload on Eutelsat‘s 65 West A satellite, HughesNet service will reach an estimated 85 percent of Brazil’s population.

“Brazil has many of the same market dynamics as in North America, primarily large untapped demand for high-speed internet access in areas either unserved or underserved by terrestrial internet providers,” said Pradman Kaul, president of Hughes

StarTimes Increases Capacity Lease with Eutelsat

StarTimes, one of the fastest-growing operators of digital TV networks in Africa, has renewed capacity contracts on two Eutelsat satellites as well as agreements for uplinking services provided by a partner teleport operated by STN, in Slovenia. In anticipation of continued expansion of Africa’s TV market, StarTimes has also secured extra capacity and plans to scale up further by the end of the year. This expanded portfolio equips StarTimes to host more services and uplink channels from Europe and Africa.

StarTimes uses satellites to deliver its multi-channel TV platform to more than seven million homes in 13 Sub-Saharan African countries, and is gearing up to expand into DRC Congo and Zambia in August. The platform transmits more than 200 channels, including international channels, regional and country-focused channels as well as StarTimes’ own branded content. Content is offered both on a Free-to-View and pay-TV basis, with exclusive programming including frontline events such as the Bundesliga and the 2016 Copa.

The UAE Space Agency.UAE Space Agency

UAE Space Agency and Lockheed Martin Form Joint Training Program

Lockheed Martin and the UAE Space Agency have entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to launch a comprehensive dual-track space training program for students and early career professionals in space fundamentals. The educational program is designed to prepare rising Emirati space professionals for future careers through a comprehensive four-month space training program that will take place at the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation and Security Solutions in Masdar City and in the United States.

The program came about as part of Lockheed Martin’s growing collaboration with the UAE Space Agency.

Arabsat Broadcasting Mauritania TV Bouquet on Badr 4 Satellite

Arabsat has launched a Mauritanian TV bouquet on its Badr 4 satellite for audiences in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa (EMENA). The channels have launched exclusively with Arabsat.

“We have a keen interest to ensure the proper delivery of the Mauritanian channels to all its viewers across Europe and the Arab world, whom are always following news and media content from their home country,” Mohamed Dieh Sidaty, general director of the Mauritanian Broadcasting Cooperation.

Intelsat and AfricaOnline Forge VSAT Partnership

Intelsat has partnered with AfricaOnline, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gondwana International Networks, to provide a managed broadband internet service for sub-Saharan Africa.

Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO). AfricaOnline has satellite ground facilities at Hartebeesthoek.Photo: HartRAO

Gondwana is a Pan-African communications service company and one of the largest VSAT operators in Africa through its operating brands, AfricaOnline and iWayAfrica. Under the agreement, Intelsat will provide satellite services via Intelsat 28 located at 33 degrees east, and Gondwana will provide ground support and network management services from AfricaOnline’s facilities at Hartebeesthoek in South Africa.

Dizengoff Ghana Taps Gilat for Broadband and Cellular Services Solution

Dizengoff Ghana, a subsidiary of U.K.-based Balton CP, has selected Gilat to implement a turnkey solution for the delivery of satellite-enabled broadband and cellular services throughout rural Ghana. Gilat will deploy its SkyEdge 2-c hub, its Gemini VSATs to schools for broadband services, and its Capricorn VSATs to Mobile Network Operators (MNO). The company is providing solar-powered CellEdge small cells in conjunction with the Capricorn VSATs for MNOs to extend cellular service across the country.

DARPA Increases SSL Funding for Robotic Satellite Servicing Technology

Space Systems Loral (SSL) has received $20.7 million from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design and build robotic arm flight hardware for the first phase of the agency’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program. SSL is receiving the funds through MDA US Systems, a division of MDA that SSL manages, and is working with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which is the prime contractor managing the program.

The contract calls for two complete robotic arm systems capable of capturing and berthing with satellites that were not previously designed for docking. The robotic arms would each have multiple joints enabling dexterous movement, with the ability to carry and use multiple generic and mission-specific tools. Building on contracts SSL received in both 2012 and 2013 for prior DARPA research into space robotics, the total contract value awarded now stands at more than $40 million. The contract could grow further if all remaining options are exercised.

SpaceX Launches Dragon, Lands Rocket at Cape Canaveral’s LZ1

SpaceX completed the launch of a Dragon capsule for NASA as part of the Commercial Resupply Services 9 (CRS-9) mission, followed by a successful landing of the first stage at Landing Zone 1 (LZ1), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida approximately eight minutes later. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, with support from fellow NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, are to grapple Dragon, which is transporting almost 5,000 pounds of cargo, and dock it to the International Space Station (ISS).

Light trails from the launch and landing of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 for NASA’s CRS-9 mission.Photo: SpaceX

CRS-9 includes instruments to perform the first-ever DNA sequencing in space, and the first international docking adapter for commercial spacecraft. Dragon’s cargo is expected to support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations planned during the station’s Expeditions 48 and 49.

Advantech Wireless Releases WideSAT for GEO, MEO and LEO HTS

Advantech Wireless is now offering WideSAT, a new High Throughput Satellite (HTS) widebeam technology for Geostationary, Medium and Low Earth Orbits (GEO, MEO and LEO) to increase density, versatility, and efficiency when using wide transponders from 250MHz to 2GHz for data links. WideSAT technology will be incorporated in Advantech Wireless’ A-SAT-2 multi-waveform satellite networking platform as well as future products.

Terra Bella’s SkySat 3 Sends Back First Pictures

Chicago’s Soldier Field stadium as seen by SkySat 3.Photo: Terra Bella

SkySat 3, the third satellite of Terra Bella (formerly Skybox Imaging) has downlinked its first images following its June 22 launch aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The satellite launched with 19 other co-passengers and was released into a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit.

Terra Bella received the first image less than 72 hours after launch, which shows Chicago on June 25, 2016 at 10:40AM local time. SkySat 3 is a prototype for Terra Bella’s SkySat C series of spacecraft that SSL is building. Terra Bella has 18 more SkySat C satellites planned, of which 11 have launches already booked.

Telus Launches 4K TV for Western Canada

Canadian telecommunications company Telus has initiated 4K Ultra-HD broadcasting for British Columbians and Albertans with the launch of 4K on the company’s Optik TV platform. At launch, Telus’ 4K lineup will include TSN 4K, adrenaline sports, Stingray Ambiance and a growing collection of on demand movies and Optik Local productions. New titles and channels will be added on an ongoing basis as additional 4K programming becomes available from content providers.

To access 4K programming, customers will require a 4K TV, a 4K PVR, as well as a minimum of Telus’ Internet 50 service package to support 4K streaming. VS