New Satellite Phones Still on the HorizonIn broadcast engineering, things typically take longer than expected, especially when implementation of new technology is involved. Apparently the same is also true of satellite telephone systems. A year ago, NAB TechCheck reported on two Internet Protocol (IP)-based satellite phone systems that were expected to soon be available (see the July 27, 2009 issue of Radio TechCheck for additional background information on these services). While still not up-and-running, there have been new developments for each system.TerreStar Networks (Reston, Va., www.terrestar.com) plans to offer a hybrid satellite/terrestrial mobile broadband network that will provide voice, data and video services "...dedicated to helping solve the critical communication and business continuity challenges faced by government, emergency responders, enterprise businesses and rural communities." TerreStar expects to offer next generation mobile communications through a network of partners and service providers to users who need "anywhere" coverage throughout the United States and Canada.Recently, TerreStar announced that commercial rollout of the TerreStar Genus dual-mode satellite-cellular smartphone (see photo) is expected to begin in September of this year. TerreStar unveiled the smartphone and its service partnership with AT&T in September 2009. The Genus service will be offered to customers in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.The TerreStar-1 satellite was launched in July 2009 and according to TerreStar is "the world's largest and most powerful commercial communications satellite." TerreStar-1 is located in a geostationary orbital slot at 111.0 degrees west longitude and operates in the 2 GHz band (a second satellite, TerreStar-2, currently under construction, will be added to the system when completed). This satellite has a primary service area shaped to cover the 48 contiguous U.S. states and the area of southern Canada encompassing 90 percent of the population. The secondary service area includes the rest of Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.Satellite service is provided using approximately 500 spot beams across the North American coverage area, each about 100 miles in diameter. In February of this year, the initial on-orbit testing of the Ground Based Beam Forming (GBBF) technology used to create these spot beams was completed. According to TerreStar, this is the first two-way GBBF system to employ both ground-based calibration and beam forming. The system provides the flexibility to deploy over 500 spot beams and manage power and capacity as customer demand dictates.Normally, the number of users and traffic load will determine the particular beam configuration, however, during a national emergency, the satellite is capable of supplying full spectrum and over 100 times the regular power to any spot beam or customized shaped beam. In particular, beams can be designed to cover incident staging areas and evacuation routes according to the particular disaster or incident. Additional information on the emergency capabilities of the system are available in a white paper entitled "A Highly Resilient Communications Solution for First Responders," available on the TerreStar Web page at www.terrestar.com/whitepaper.php.It was announced last week that the other satellite phone system, originally called SkyTerra, has been "re-launched" as LightSquared (www.lightsquared.com), a new nationwide 4G-LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless broadband network integrated with satellite coverage (using the L-band). The satellites to be used in this service are planned for launch in the 2010-11 time frame.As the nation's first wholesale-only integrated wireless broadband and satellite network, LightSquared will provide wireless broadband capacity to a diverse group of customers including: retailers, wireline and wireless communication service providers, cable operators, device manufacturers, Web players; content providers and many others. The LightSquared network will allow these partners to offer satellite-only, terrestrial-only or integrated satellite-terrestrial services to their end users. The wholesale-only business model ensures LightSquared has no conflict of interest with its customers.The driving force behind LightSquared is Philip Falcone, founder and chief executive officer of Harbinger Capital Partners. Falcone has made several investments through the Harbinger funds, including the acquisition of SkyTerra Communications, Inc., to form LightSquared, with the goal of "...meeting the explosive demand for wireless broadband connectivity generated by new devices and the mobile Internet." Falcone has partnered with telecommunications visionary Sanjiv Ahuja, who will lead the LightSquared team as chairman and chief executive officer. Ahuja was chief executive officer of the global telecom giant Orange Group (www.orange.com/en_EN/group/) from 2004 through 2007, during which Orange's customer base grew from 48 million to more than 100 million subscribers globally.In addition, Nokia Siemens Networks, a leading supplier of telecommunications equipment and services, has signed an 8-year agreement with LightSquared, subject to final approval by both the Nokia Siemens Networks and the LightSquared Boards. The agreement represents more than $7 billion over 8 years, and includes network design, equipment manufacturing and installation, and network operations and maintenance. The nationwide LightSquared network, to consist of approximately 40,000 cellular base stations, is expected to cover 92 percent of the U.S. population by 2015. LightSquared is reportedly planning to conduct trial market test runs in Phoenix and Denver early next year.
28 luglio 2010
Terrestar e LightSquared, due nuove reti sat-phone
Sempre piena di notizie e approfondimenti interessanti la newsletter del NAB, National Association of Broadcasters TechCheck ci parla di due nuovi progetti di sistemi di telefonia satellitare interamente basati su IP: il geostazionario TerreStar e il Low-Earth Orbit LightSquared (ex SkyTerra). Un primo accenno ai due progetti era comparso su TechCheck nel 2009 e adesso che entrambi sono in fase anche avanzata di lancio (il satellite TerreStar-1 è in orbita dal luglio del 2009) vengono forniti alcuni aggiornamenti. La copertura satellitare riguarda parti del continente americano e del Pacifico, ma mi sembra comunque una notizia degna di considerazione anche perché LightSqaured fa parte di un più ambizioso progetto di copertura terrestre con servizi di telefonia IP di quarta generazione LTE. I due sistemi pensano di offrire servizi di telefonia evoluta per terminali smart (Terrestar pensa a uno smartphone satellitare Windows, figuriamoci un poco).