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Astrium has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to supply the MicroWave Sounder (MWS) instruments for the MetOp Second Generation series of satellites (MetOp-SG). The contract for the MWS instruments, worth up to 155.5 million euros, has been awarded to Astrium in the UK and the satellites will be operated by EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. The MWS instrument is the follow on to the highly successful MicroWave Humidity Sounder (MHS), also primed from Astrium in Portsmouth and currently flying on the first generation MetOp missions. The new generation of instruments will provide a much higher level of performance over a greater spectral range. The instrument delivers atmospheric temperature and water vapour information for use in Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) forecasts enabling short term weather forecasts to be made with greater accuracy. There will be a minimum of two MWS instruments, each with a mission life of 7.5 years. A team of 40 at Astrium in Portsmouth will develop the MWS instruments together with 15 major subcontractors across UK and Europe. In the UK key contributions to the program will also be made by SEA Ltd., STFC/RAL, JCR Systems Ltd. and Queens University in

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I Inside view

Belfast together with other opportunities for UK companies to bid to provide equipment/services. ESA has the option of ordering a third instrument, to ensure that the MWS instruments will provide accurate forecasting data until 2040 and beyond. The first MetOp SG satellite is due to be launched in 2021. Astrium UK Managing Director, Colin Paynter, said, “This contract is a direct result of the government increasing its ambition in space which has allowed our great innovation and engineering talent to have a route to market. It builds on Astrium's proven expertise in meteorological and space-borne instruments, and is great news for the UK team. The unique experience built up in developing and manufacturing the microwave instruments for the current MetOp satellites firmly put Portsmouth as one of the world leaders in this area.� The first instrument was launched in 2005. Altogether they have accumulated 17 years of faultless mission operation across the four instruments. A fifth MHS instrument is in long term storage and will be launched on the third and final MetOp satellite in 2018.

Astrium And New Satellites

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AZERSP E AC

Satellite

The first Azerbaijani telecommunications satellite, Azerspace-1, started its full commercial operation on July 16, the Communications and Information Technologies Ministry said. Launched in February, Azerspace was on trials until March. The test operation period ended in April and since then the satellite has been ready for commercial exploitation. Azerbaijani space agency Azercosmos completed technical work on the allocation of resources of the satellite to local TV and radio broadcasters in May. Commercial broadcasting of both local and foreign TV channels and radio stations from the satellite starts in full from July. Some 20 percent of the satellite's resources will be used for Azerbaijan's needs, and 80 percent will be available for commercial purposes. Moreover, in order to increase customers' interest and the variety of the viewers' choice, consistent work is carried out to further increase the number of TV channels and expand the geography and language diversity. First, along with local channels, some 50 TV and radio broadcasters will be aired in English, Russian, Turkish and Persian and thereafter the number of the TV channels will be further increased. The satellite is controlled by the specialists of Azercosmos from Main Home Ground Satellite Control Center near the capital Baku. An alternative ground control center, located in Nakhchivan, has

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already started its operation. According to ICT Minister Ali Abbasov, commissioning of the Ground Satellite Control Center and its development are not slated only for Azerbaijan, and at the same time it is a regional center that can serve other satellites. Azerspace satellite will offer many advantages to the local TV and radio companies, as well as acceptable conditions for transmission. Special data compression technology will allow TV and radio companies to reduce usage of the satellite's resources and organize packet transmission of the highest quality. The main factor of quality will be the high level of signal transmission in the satellite's coverage area. Azercosmos also signed an agreement on the "Launch of transponder capacity of the telecommunication satellite" with ANS Independent Broadcasting and Media Company on July 16. North African telecommunication operators started using resources of the satellite in May and the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) broadcasters may air their programs through Azerspace-1 as well. The satellite was designed to offer digital broadcasting services, Internet access, data transmission, to create multiservice VSAT networks and provide for governmental communication. The satellite exploitation term in the orbit will be up to 15 years.

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Inside view

Choice Is Yours Even with the cost, having hundreds of channels at our disposal is still a necessity for most of us. There are options for how you get these channels though. Cable is the most popular option with satellite coming in at second. The obvious difference is how each one of them inherently works. In the beginning, antennas on homes would pick up the signal from a broadcast tower. However, the further from the tower you got, the worse the signal. Mountains and hills could also easily interfere with the signal. To fix this, people started putting antennas on top of hills, closer to their home, and ran a cable from the antenna to their TV. Nowadays, cable companies basically

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collect channels from all over the world using satellites. Local channels can simply send their channels to cable companies using cables. These companies then send out a network of cables to customer's homes to deliver these channels directly to your television. Satellite companies follow the same basic idea but with a slight twist. They too collect channels from all over the world at their broadcast center. However, they then beam that information to their satellites and the satellite beams it directly to your dish. The dish you installed sends the content to a receiver and the receiver decodes it and passes it on to your TV. Since satellite companies don't face the same local taxes as cable companies, they can offer more channels for less and almost always win for price. However, if you don't need very many channels, a very basic cable plan might be the cheapest option for you. Some introductory cable rates may also be cheaper but be sure to ask what the price will jump to after those 12 or 24 months.

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I Inside view Successful firms will make adjustments to changing consumer preferences and deliver a more interactive and customized service. Television really took off in the 1950s when TV sets became affordable and programming more diverse and entertaining. Adjusting from the audio-only culture of radio, consumers were blown away by television's visuals. Today, we're at the very same inflection point but with much more exciting implications.

The world broadcasting and cable TV market expanded by almost 6% in 2010 to exceed $373,000 million, according to MarketLine. The market is expected to reach almost $475,000 million by 2015. TV advertising accounts for the largest market segment at just under 48% of overall market value. Americas accounts for almost 45% of the world broadcasting and cable TV market. The industry is only moderately competitive due to high differentiation and restricted buyer power. The global digital broadcasting industry has almost 50 million subscribers, with 30% market growth between 2010 and 2011, reports Budde Comm. In developed markets, the tendency towards digital broadcasting is widespread, boosted by digital TV and the introduction of digital FTA channels in Australia. In New Zealand, analogue TV was to be abandoned in 2015

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or by such time as 75% of households had digital TV. Digital TV saturation is already at 80% of households, with a complete changeover expected to be accomplished before the end of 2013. The US market is seeing a move towards TV-on demand, fuelled by broadband networks. The Brazilian pay TV market is lead by companies such as Sky Brazil, Telesp, Embratel, Net Serviรงos, and Oi TV. Business advertising, program popularity, and consumer demographics drive demand. The profitability of individual companies depends on advertising volume, programming mix, and efficient operations. Large companies have advantages of market dominance, often owning the only TV stations in a geographic area. Small companies can compete effectively with special programming that attracts a targeted audience. The industry is highly concentrated: the top 50 companies account for about 90 percent of revenue. The industry continues to experience strong competition from the digital cable and satellite TV industries. The cable TV industry, in particular, represents a significant threat to future industry growth, though broadcasters are increasingly negotiating with cable networks to get a portion of profit from viewers. New media also poses competition, with a greater number of viewers opting for the internet.

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Cable Channels Undergo TV Makeovers Don't fret if you feel baffled by all the exotic new channel names and programming choices popping up on your cable or satellite TV guide. As pay TV's go-go years wind down, a growing number of cable networks, especially the middle of the pack, are playing with their identities and launching risky campaigns to reach more viewers. "These are the toughest market conditions we've dealt with since the early days of cable programming," says Roger Werner, CEO of Outdoor Channel Holdings, who helped to create ESPN. "That's why you're at a point today where you're seeing more of this rebranding and repositioning than ever before." In the past 12 months OLN (originally Outdoor Life Network), highdefinition service INHD and The Biography Channel traded in those names for snazzy new ones: Versus, Mojo and Bio, respectively. The new year will begin with CourtTV morphing into truTV, followed by Discovery Home blossoming into Planet Green. Even some channels keeping their

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brand names are overhauling lineups and images. AMC, Bloomberg TV, IFC, Military Channel and TV Land are getting makeovers; A&E and Lifetime are considering it. The goal: stand out among more than 160 channels. "It's getting harder and harder to identify with the viewers and let them know who you are and what your strategy is when there are so many channels," says Derek Baine, senior analyst at researcher SNL Kagan. Many channels also are adjusting to meet a growing need to produce original programming. The old movies and reruns of prime-time hits that have been cable's bread and butter no longer cut it when viewers can also catch these shows via digital-video recorders, DVDs and Internet downloads. "Consumers change in their relationship to media, and their interests change, which means you'd better well change with them and be continually relevant," says Joshua Sapan, CEO of Rainbow Media Holdings, owner of AMC and IFC. Cable channels — the common label for pay-TV networks also on satellite and telecom TV services — have a lot on the line. The ad-supported channels collectively will generate $38.1 billion in revenues in 2007, with an enviable 36% left over after expenses, according to SNL Kagan. The cash comes largely from ad sales and the fees subscribers pay indirectly each month in cable or satellite TV bills.

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The Advanced Television Standards Committee (ATSC) has set voluntary standards for digital television. These standards include how sound and video are encoded and transmitted. They also provide guidelines for different levels of quality. All of the digital standards are better in quality than analog signals. HDTV standards are the top tier of all the digital signals. The ATSC has created 18 commonly used digital broadcast formats for video. The lowest quality digital format is about the same as the highest quality an analog TV can display. The 18 formats cover differences in: Aspect ratio - Standard television has a 4:3 aspect ratio -- it is four units wide by three units high. HDTV has a 16:9 aspect ratio, more like a movie screen. Resolution - The lowest standard resolution (SDTV) will be about the same as analog TV and will go up to 704 x 480 pixels. The highest HDTV resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels. HDTV can display about ten times as many pixels as an analog TV set. Frame rate - A set's frame rate describes how many times it creates a complete picture on the screen every second. DTV frame rates usually end in "i" or "p" to denote whether they are interlaced or progressive. DTV frame rates range from 24p (24 frames per second, progressive) to 60p (60 frames per second, progressive). Broadcasters get to decide which of these formats they will use and whether they will broadcast in high definition -many are already using digital and highdefinition signals. Electronics manufacturers get to decide which aspect ratios and resolutions their TVs will use. Consumers get to decide which resolutions are most important to them and buy their new equipment based on that. Until the analog shutoff date, broadcasters will have two available channels to send their signal -- a channel for analog, and a "virtual" channel for digital. Right now, people can watch an over-the-air digital signal only if they are tuned in to the broadcaster's virtual digital channel. After analog broadcasting ends, the only signals people will receive over the air will be digital.

I Inside view

However, even though a digital signal is better quality than an analog signal, it isn't necessarily high definition. HDTV is simply the highest of all the DTV standards. But whether you see a high-definition picture and hear the accompanying Dolby Digital速 sound depends on two things.

V T D H . s v DTV

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Evolution in Satellite TV The next great advance in television will be the adoption of a high-definition television (HDTV) system. Non-experimental analog HDTV broadcasting began in Japan in 1991. In 1994 the FCC approved a U.S. standard for an all-digital system, to be used by all commercial broadcast stations by mid-2002. Although it was hoped that the transition to digital broadcasting would be largely completed by 2006, less than a third of all stations had begun transmitting digital signals by the mid-2002 deadline. In 2005 the U.S. government mandated an end to digital broadcasting in Feb., 2009 (changed to June, 2009, shortly before the deadline in 2009), but by Apr., 2008, only 80% of those stations required to end analog broadcasting had begun digital broadcasting. The most noticeable difference between the current system and the HDTV system is the aspect ratio of the picture. While the ratio of the width of a current TV picture to its height is 4:3, the HDTV system has a ratio of 16:9, about the same as the screen used in a typical motion-picture theater. HDTV also provides higher picture resolution and high quality audio. Each frame of video consists of 720 or 1,125 horizontally scanned lines instead of the current 525. Furthermore, the lines are scanned sequentially, not interlaced as they are now. The wide availability of television has raised concerns about the amount of time children spend watching TV, as well as the increasingly violent and graphic sexual content of TV programming. Starting in 1999 the FCC required TV set manufacturers to install "V-Chip" technology that allows parents to block the viewing of specific programs; that same year the television industry adopted a voluntary ratings system to indicate the content of each program. Various interactive television systems have

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been tested or proposed. An interactive system could be used for instant publicopinion polls or for home shopping. Many cable television systems use an interactive system for instant ordering of "pay-perview" programming. Others systems poll their subscribers' equipment to compile information on program preferences. Several competing commercial systems have connected televisions to the Internet. In the television receiver, the original image is reconstructed essentially by reversing the operation of the video camera. The final image is typically displayed on the face of a cathode-ray tube, where an electron beam scans the fluorescent face, called the "screen," line for line with the pickup scanning. The fluorescent deposit on the tube's inside face glows when hit by the electrons, and the visual image is reproduced.

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e r e h co m e s , D 3 t e the g r o F

Researchers have developed a new form of light-emitting crystals, known as quantum dots, which can be used to produce ultrathin televisions. The tiny crystals, which are 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, can be printed onto flexible plastic sheets to produce a paper-thin display that can be easily carried around, or even onto wallpaper to create giant roomsize screens. The scientists hope the first quantum dot televisions – like current flat-screen TVs, but with improved colour and thinner displays – will be available in shops by the end of next year. A flexible version is expected to take at least three years to reach the market. Michael Edelman, chief executive of Nanoco, a spin out company set up by the scientists behind the technology at Manchester University, said: "We are working with some major Asian electronics companies. The first products we are expecting to come to market using quantum dots will be the next generation of flatscreen televisions. "The real advantage provided by quantum dots, however, is that they can be printed on to a plastic sheet that can rolled up. It is

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QD TV

likely these will be small personal devices to begin with. "Something else we are looking at is reels of wallpaper or curtains made out of a material that has quantum dots printed on it. You can imagine displaying scenes of the sun rising over a beach as you wake up in the morning." Although Mr Edelman was unable to reveal which companies Nanoco are working with due to commercial agreements, it is believed that electronics giants Sony, Sharp, Samsung and LG are all working on quantum dot television technology. Most televisions now produced have a liquid-crystal display (LCD) lit by light-emitting diodes (LED), with the screen two to three inches thick. Replacing the LEDs with quantum dots could reduce the thickness. Shortages of rare earth elements needed in these displays have driven up production costs, driving electronics firms to look for new ways of making them. Quantum dots are made from cheaper semi-conducting materials that emit light when energised by electricity or ultraviolet light. By changing the size of the crystals, the researchers found they can manipulate the colour of light they produce.

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The number of FTA (free-to-air) satellite channels in the Arab world reached 716 channels by May 2013. The 716 analyzed channels broadcast on Arabsat, Nilesat, Noorsat and Yahlive (fully operational channels reached 658), a new report “Satellite TV in the Arab World 2013” released to the Arab Advisors Group's Media Strategic Research Service showed.The majority of the analyzed FTA satellite channels broadcast in Standard Definition (SD), while 9.7 percent broadcast in High Definition (HD). The number of FTA satellite channels targeting the Arab region continues to grow. The FTA landscape had a major growth of 599 percent in the number of FTA satellite channels which broadcast in SD between January 2004 and May 2013. Based on Arab Advisors Group

I Inside view

owned. In terms of the types of channels, General-Private Sector channels constitute 18.5 percent of the operational FTA satellite channels followed by News and Current Affairs channels.” “Aplurality of FTA channels are headquartered in Egypt which hosts 19.1 percent of the fully launched and operational FTA channels. The UAE and Saudi Arabia follow with percentages of 13.8 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively,” Hind Qweider, Arab Advisors research analyst, added. Pan Arab free to air satellite television continues to rapidly expand in the Middle East, facilitating better information and a freer environment. Seven service providers in six countries Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar and UAE - offer commercial IPTV services in the Mena region, the report stated. Additionally, there are ongoing or planned projects by the service providers and governments in countries including Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Tunisia, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, to offer local IPTV services in the future, Faten Bader, an Arab Advisors senior research analyst, said in the report. The experts pointed out that a massive supply of free to air (FTA) channels and the widespread piracy of DVDs and Pay TV were the major obstacles facing IPTV providers. This makes the TV viewing experience more interactive and personalized, Bader pointed out.

FTA Satellite Channels In Arab World research, by May 2013, the total number of unique FTA satellite channels reached 716 on Arabsat, Nilesat, Noorsat and Yahlive. The number of the fully launched and operational channels; excluding channels in the test transmission phase, reached 658, up from 565 in March 2012.Dalia Haddad, Arab Advisors research analyst, said “76.6 percent of the operational FTA satellite channels are privately

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How HDTV Works When the first high-definition television (HDTV) sets hit the market in 1998, movie buffs, sports fans and tech aficionados got pretty excited, and for good reason. Ads for the sets hinted at a television paradise with superior resolution and digital surround sound. With HDTV, you could also play movies in their original widescreen format without the letterbox "black bars" that some people find annoying. But for a lot of people, HDTV hasn't delivered a ready-made source for transcendent experiences in front of the tube. Instead, people have gone shopping for a TV and found themselves surrounded by confusing abbreviations and too many choices. Some have even hooked up their new HDTV sets only to discover that the picture doesn't look good. Fortunately, a few basic facts easily dispel all of this confusion.In this article, we'll look at the differences between analog, digital and high-definition, explain the acronyms and resolution levels and give you the facts on the United States transition to all-digital television. We'll also tell you exactly what you need to know if you're thinking about upgrading to HDTV.For years, watching TV

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has involved analog signals and cathode ray tube (CRT) sets. The signal is made of continually varying radio waves that the TV translates into a picture and sound. An analog signal can reach a person's TV over the air, through a cable or via satellite. Digital signals, like the ones from DVD players, are converted to analog when played on traditional TVs. This system has worked pretty well for a long time, but it has some limitations: Conventional CRT sets display around 480 visible lines of pixels. Broadcasters have been sending signals that work well with this resolution for years, and they can't fit enough resolution to fill a huge television into the analog signal. Analog pictures are interlaced -- a CRT's electron gun paints only half the lines for each pass down the screen. On some TVs, interlacing makes the picture flicker. United States broadcasting is currently changing to digital television (DTV). A digital signal transmits the information for video and sound as ones and zeros instead of as a wave. For over-the-air broadcasting, DTV will generally use the UHF portion of the radio spectrum with a 6 MHz bandwidth, just like analog TV signals do.

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Ka-band

v/s

Ku-band The current debate about the

adva ntages of Ka-band vs. Ku-band for next generation High Throughput Satellites (HTS) misses the point. Endless pages have been written about Ka-band advantages of higher theoretical throughput vs. Ku-bands superiority in sub-optimal weather vs. the costs of end user equipment. Focusing on these technical issues misses the larger point of the strategic issues that will likely drive marketplace acceptance. The old adage “satellite wars are won on the ground” is likely to be true with Ka vs. Ku-band HTS. While it's possible that either Ka-band or Ku-band will be a technical disaster making it commercially unviable, the odds that a large portion of engineers missed this is highly unlikely. While they will have differences, both are likely to ultimately work reasonably similarly from a customer's perspective. Rather, the Ka-band vs. Ku-band is likely to follow the path of previous battles over technical approaches, ranging from the

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I Inside view

battle over railroad track widths (gauge) in the mid 1800s to VHS vs. Betamax of the 1980s and the more recent GSM vs. CDMA battles. In each of these, the battle for the market had nothing to do with the technical advantages of either approach. Rather the winners were based on decision by those who controlled enough of the market to force it on the rest.

In the case of the railroads, there were over a dozen different standards for railroad widths before 1860. It wasn't until the Eastern railroads using 4' 8 ½” gauge rails convinced the new railroads in the west to adopt the same standard that the others were put in such a minority position, they finally had to undergo the expensive conversion process or retrofitting their tracks. With Betamax vs. VHS, most people agreed that Betamax offered superior picture quality. But JVC (who controlled VHS), quickly licensed its technology to a multitude of manufacturers, driving prices lower and creating competitive innovation. The death knell for Betamax was the greater availability of Hollywood movies on VHS. The European standardization on GSM has quickly built demand for hardware using that technology. Hardware manufactures spent tens of billions of dollars developing and improving it. Despite the success of CDMA in the US, the use of GSM as the defacto European standard has given it such a head start, that most other countries have simply copied it.

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Conceptually, satellite TV is a lot like broadcast TV. It's a wireless system for delivering television programming directly to a viewer's house. Both broadcast television and satellite stations transmit programming via a radio signal. Broadcast stations use a powerful antenna to transmit radio waves to the surrounding area. Viewers can pick up the signal with a much smaller antenna. The main limitation of broadcast TV is range. The radio signals used to broadcast television shoot out from the broadcast antenna in a straight line. In order to receive these signals, you have to be in the direct line of sight of the antenna. Small obstacles like trees or small buildings aren't a problem; but a big obstacle, such as the Earth, will reflect these radio waves. If the Earth were perfectly flat, you could

I Inside view

pick up broadcast TV thousands of miles from the source. But because the planet is curved, it eventually breaks the signal's line of sight. The other problem with broadcast TV is that the signal is often distorted, even in the viewing area. To get a perfectly clear signal like you find on cable, you have to be pretty close to the broadcast antenna without too many obstacles in the way. Satellite TV solves the problems of range and distortion by transmitting broadcast signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. Since satellites are high in the sky, there are a lot more customers in the line of sight. Satellite TV systems transmit and receive radio signals using specialized antennas called satellite dishes. Early satellite TV viewers were explorers of sorts. They used their expensive dishes to

discover unique programming that wasn't necessarily intended for mass audiences. The dish and receiving equipment gave viewers the tools to pick up foreign stations, live feeds between different broadcast stations, NASA activities and a lot of other stuff transmitted using satellites. Some satellite owners still seek out this sort of programming on their own, but today, most satellite TV customers get their programming through a direct broadcast satellite (DBS) provider, such as DirecTV or DISH Network. The provider selects programs and broadcasts them to subscribers as a set package. Basically, the provider's goal is to bring dozens or even hundreds of channels to your TV in a form that approximates the competition, cable TV.

Problems with Broadcast TV

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I Inside view

SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS MAIN COMPONENTS The satellite itself is also known as the space segment, and is composed of three separate units, namely the fuel system, the satellite and telemetry controls, and the transponder. The transponder includes the receiving antenna to pick-up signals from the ground station, a broad band receiver, an input multiplexer, and a frequency converter which is used to reroute the received signals through a high powered amplifier for downlink. The primary role of a satellite is to reflect electronic signals. In the case of a telecom satellite, the primary task is to receive signals from a ground station and send them down to another ground station located a considerable distance away from the first. This relay action can be two-way, as in the case of a long distance phone call. Another use of the satellite is when, as is the case with television broadcasts, the ground station's uplink is then downlinked over a wide region, so that it may be received by many different customers possessing compatible equipment. Still another use for satellites is observation, wherein the satellite is equipped with cameras or various sensors, and it merely downlinks any information it picks up from its vantagepoint. This is the earth segment. The ground station's job is two-fold. In the case of an

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uplink, or transmitting station, terrestrial data in the form of baseband signals, is passed through a baseband processor, an up converter, a high powered amplifier, and through a parabolic dish antenna up to an orbiting satellite. In the case of a downlink, or receiving station, works in the reverse fashion as the uplink, ultimately converting signals received through the parabolic antenna to base band signal. Since the beginnings of the long distance telephone network, there has been a need to connect the telecommunications networks of one country to another. This has been accomplished in several ways. Submarine cables have been used most frequently. However, there are many occasions where a large long distance carrier will choose to establish a satellite based link to connect to transoceanic points, geographically remote areas or poor countries that have little communications infrastructure. Groups like the international satellite consortium Intelsat have fulfilled much of the world's need for this type of service. Satellites have been used for since the 1960's to transmit broadcast television signals between the network hubs of television companies and their network affiliates.

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Satellite Dish

When the signal reaches the viewer's house, it is captured by the satellite dish. A satellite dish is just a special kind of antenna designed to focus on a specific broadcast source. The standard dish consists of a parabolic (bowl-shaped) surface and a central feed horn. To transmit a signal, a controller sends it through the horn, and the dish focuses the signal into a relatively narrow beam. The dish on the receiving end can't transmit information; it can only receive it. The receiving dish works in the exact opposite way of the transmitter. When a beam hits the curved dish, the parabola shape reflects the radio signal inward onto a particular point, just like a concave mirror focuses light onto a particular point.

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The central element in the feed horn is the low noise blockdown converter, or LNB. The LNB amplifies the radio signal bouncing off the dish and filters out the noise (radio signals not carrying programming). The LNB passes the amplified, filtered signal to the satellite receiver inside the viewer's house. Receivers have a number of other features as well. They pick up a programming schedule signal from the provider and present this information in an onscreen programming guide. Many receivers have parental lock-out options, and some have built-in digital video recorders (DVRs), which let you pause live television or record it on a hard drive. These receiver features are just added bonuses to the technology of satellite TV. With its movie-quality picture and sound, satellite TV is becoming a popular investment for consumers.

In this case, the point is the dish's feed horn, which passes the signal on to the receiving equipment. In an ideal setup, there aren't any major obstacles between the satellite and the dish, so the dish receives a clear signal. In some systems, the dish needs to pick up signals from two or more satellites at the same time. The satellites may be close enough together that a regular dish with a single horn can pick up signals from both. This compromises quality somewhat, because the dish isn't aimed directly at one or more of the satellites. A new dish design uses two or more horns to pick up different satellite signals. As the beams from different satellites hit the curved dish, they reflect at different angles so that one beam hits one of the horns and another beam hits a different horn.

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I Inside view

Satellite TV Encoding and Encryption At the broadcast center, the high-quality digital stream of video goes through an MPEG encoder, which converts the programming to MPEG-4 video of the correct size and format for the satellite receiver in your house. Encoding works in conjunction with compression to analyze each video frame and eliminate redundant or irrelevant data and extrapolate information from other frames. This process reduces the overall size of the file. Each frame can be encoded in one of three ways: As an intraframe, which contains the complete image data for that frame. This method provides the least compression. As a predicted frame, which contains just enough information to tell the satellite receiver how to display the frame based on the most recently displayed intraframe or predicted frame. A predicted frame contains only data that explains how the picture has changed from the previous frame. As a bidirectional frame, which displays information from the surrounding intraframe or predicted frames. Using data from the closest surrounding frames, the receiver interpolates the position and color of each pixel. This process occasionally produces artifacts -- glitches in the video image. One artifact

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is macroblocking, in which the fluid picture temporarily dissolves into blocks. Macroblocking is often mistakenly called pixilating, a technically incorrect term which has been accepted as slang for this annoying artifact. Graphic artists and video editors use "pixilating" more accurately to refer to the distortion of an image. There really are pixels on your TV screen, but they're too small for your human eye to perceive them individually -- they're tiny squares of video data that make up the image you see. The rate of compression depends on the nature of the programming. If the encoder is converting a newscast, it can use a lot more predicted frames because most of the scene stays the same from one frame to the next. In more fast-paced programming, things change very quickly from one frame to the next, so the encoder has to create more intraframes. As a result, a newscast generally compresses to a smaller size than something like a car race. After the video is compressed, the provider encrypts it to keep people from accessing it for free. Encryption scrambles the digital data in such a way that it can only be decrypted (converted back into usable data) if the receiver has the correct decryption algorithm and security keys.

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20 YEARS OF GENEROUS PUBLICATIONS

Satellite TV is more popular than ever in Germany after the country's analogue switch-off that took place this year. According to the latest Satellite Monitor, satellite TV gained 100,000 households to reach 17.6 million in the first half of 2012. By contrast, cable TV reception declined further, from 17.3 million in December 2011 to 17 million households until the end of June 2012. Digital terrestrial TV (DVB-T) benefited from the analogue switch-off and reached 2 million households by the end of June (from 1.8 million in December 2011). Internet Protocol television (IPTV) increased its reach to 1.4 million households (from 1.3 million at the end of 2011). The overall number of TV households in Germany increased slightly to 38 million (December 2011: 37.9 million). High definition TV (HDTV) is also on the rise, with 7.2 million or 41% of all satellite households in Germany watching HD content, compared to 5.9 million or 34% in December 2011. The first regular electronic television service in Germany began in Berlin on March 22, 1935, as Deutscher Fernseh Rundfunk. Broadcasting from the Fernsehsender Paul Nipkow, it used a 180line system, and was on air for 90 minutes, three times a week. Very few receivers were ever privately owned, and viewers

I Inside view

went instead to Fernsehstuben (television parlors). During the 1936 Summer Olympics, broadcasts, up to eight hours a day, took place in Berlin and Hamburg. The National Socialists intended to use television as a medium for their propaganda once the number of television sets were increased, but television was able initially to reach only a small number of viewers, in contrast to radio. Despite many technical improvements to camera technology, allowing for higher resolution imaging, by 1939, and the start of World War II, plans for an expansion of television programming were soon changed in favor of radio. Nevertheless, the Berlin station, along with one in occupied Paris (Fernsehsender Paris), remained on the air for most of World War II. A planned expansion of the DTT line-up in the German region Hanover/Braunschweig has attracted strong interest by German TV broadcasters. The broadcast service provider Media Broadcast demonstrated the HbbTV standard over DVB-T during the Medientagen in Munich. Several online services could be reached from the dedicated barker channel. They included the VOD portal from redbull.tv, content from S端ddeutsche Zeitung TV (a German newspaper), the HbbTV offer from home shopping channel QVC and the demo-VOD portal from Media Broadcast.

Satellite TV Increases Its Reach

In Germany OCTOBER

Monthly Magazine

59

The Highly Circulated Satellite Magazine

2013


20 YEARS OF GENEROUS PUBLICATIONS

I Inside view

Transmission Process Signals are sent up to the satellite from the earth's surface. The transmission station is called an uplink station. The transmission takes place via frequency modulation (FM). The advantage of FM is that there are no problems regarding the frequency and dynamic range that needs to be transmitted, plus, FM is less sensitive to interference than AM. For practical reasons, conventional TV stations broadcast in AM (called earth or terrestrial TV). The outgoing transmission takes place at a very high frequency of 14,000 MHz (= 14 Gigahertz). To avoid any interference, the incoming signal (downlink) is transmitted at a frequency between 10 and 12 GHz. This is the socalled KU band, which covers the area from 10.7-12.75 GHz. The downlink signal is sent to earth in a focused beam, via a parabolic antenna, that looks quite similar to a receiving dish antenna. From there, it can be picked up by private antenna, shared antenna installations and cable companies. Consumer satellites use a concentrated beam to give a stronger signal over a smaller land area. The area over which the signals can be received is called the footprint of a satellite. Footprint diagrams show the area of coverage, including the antenna size which is needed for good reception in the central and outlying areas. Under normal conditions, good reception

OCTOBER

within the footprint area is possible for as much as 99.9% of the time. However, exceptional weather conditions can have an adverse effect on reception quality for short periods. Satellite TV solves the problems of range and distortion by transmitting broadcast signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. Since satellites are high in the sky, there are a lot more customers in the line of sight. Satellite TV systems transmit and receive radio signals using specialized antennas called satellite dishes. Early satellite TV viewers were explorers of sorts. They used their expensive dishes to discover unique programming that wasn't necessarily intended for mass audiences. The dish and receiving equipment gave viewers the tools to pick up foreign stations, live feeds between different broadcast stations, NASA activities and a lot of other stuff transmitted using satellites.

Some satellite owners still seek out this sort of programming on their own, but today, most satellite TV customers get their programming through a direct broadcast satellite (DBS) provider, such as DirecTV or DISH Network. The provider selects programs and broadcasts them to subscribers as a set package. Basically, the provider's goal is to bring dozens or even hundreds of channels to your TV in a form that approximates the competition, cable TV.

Monthly Magazine

77

The Highly Circulated Satellite Magazine

2013


20 YEARS OF GENEROUS PUBLICATIONS

I Inside view

Satellite Broadband in Europe The European Union's Digital Agenda calls for every citizen and business to have access to broadband that provides at least 2 megabits per second by 2013. Today that's largely possible. In fact more than 99 per cent of the population of the EU can get ten times that. “Now that twenty megabit bandwidths are commonly on offer and some tariffs offer customers unlimited data the case for satellite broadband has, in our view, reached a tipping point,” says Oliver Johnson, Chief Executive at Point Topic. Despite the satellite industry at last having a story to tell and changing the perceptions of satellite for some, the market is not moving as quickly as it should. In the words of one distributor, “There are a lot of people who still do not have a clue about satellite”. This has been changing, gradually, since the launch of Ka satellites around the world. The step change in bandwidth and costs made possible by the updated technology has meant an acceleration in take-up but satellite subscribers still make up less than half of one per cent of the total broadband market. There are downsides, but overall satellite is now a more attractive package Satellite operators have addressed many of the

OCTOBER

issues that affected earlier deployments making the current offering considerably more attractive to consumers. According to the FCC satellite in the US is the best technology for 'promised' bandwidth as on average you get 130 per cent plus of what you pay for, at least in North America. A study for Ofcom, the UK regulator, found that users ranked satellite as the best browsing experience in a blind test. “There remains the latency issue. It just takes time for your data to make the journey to space and back. O3b, backed by Google amongst others, actually puts their satellites in a lower orbit to reduce the time lags. This isn't something we're likely to see in Europe this decade though,” says Johnson. Despite the downsides, which in data terms primarily affects gamers or those trying to run remote desktops, Ka band satellite provides a realistic alternative for anyone who wants internet access. According to Point Topic's latest work for the European Commission there are more than 20 million people in Europe with no access to fixed broadband and more than 200 million who cannot get superfast broadband today.

Monthly Magazine

78

The Highly Circulated Satellite Magazine

2013


Oct 2013  

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