All aboard the multimedia van: destination Vicenza

Mobile S-UMTS multimedia van
Mobile S-UMTS multimedia van
2 October 2003

The European Space Agency is making a first time appearance at SAT Expo presenting a wide range of live demos, projects and advanced applications. The event takes place in Vicenza, Italy from 2-4 October.

Galileo, interactive TV, bridging the digital divide, highly advanced satellite communications projects; anyone who thought the European Space Agency (ESA) was only involved in complex scientific projects and space exploration is way off the mark. Acting as both promoter and financial backer, ESA is working on a number of projects that closely affect daily life and business.

Visitors to SAT Expo 2003 will get a sneak preview of 'Satellite UMTS' with the demonstration of the multimedia van. The project involves the Italian companies Space Engineering, Telespazio and state broadcaster RAI. The general public knows of UMTS as the 'third-generation telecommunications standard', a framework for powerful multimedia applications for mobile phones. ESA Telecom is currently conducting experiments into the possibility of delivering UMTS services by satellite. All that will be needed is a car equipped with a satellite receiver to access broadband content while moving in even the remotest areas.

A wide range of demos, projects and applications will be on show
Projects and applications go on show

A series of live demonstrations will be showcased, including examples of live streaming, videoconferencing, content distribution and collaborative environments.

Using satellites as the main instrument for bridging the digital divide is a theme that will receive special attention at SAT Expo 2003. Satellite technology is decisive for the development of communications in countries and areas where broadband access (ADSL or fibre) is lacking. New satellite applications will one day be decisive in the progress for eastern European countries as they approach European Union membership.

ESA will be at stand A8-12 Pavillion F
ESA will be at stand A8-12 Pavillion F

ESA's projects include those dedicated entirely to the consumer market. An example is Satmode, a new system for interactive TV by satellite currently under development. Existing digital television systems (cable, terrestrial or satellite) rely on a telephone connection as a return channel - in other words interactivity takes place via classic copper duplex. Satmode is an interactive terminal that aims to provide a low-cost alternative - adding about 50 euros to the price of set-top-boxes on sale today.

Last but not least, Galileo is a joint project with the European Commission to launch a constellation of 30 satellites to provide a civilian navigation system. Scheduled to be operational in 2008, the system will provide an alternative to the non-civilian US controlled GPS. To know more about the business opportunities that will be created for small to medium-sized enterprises visit ESA at stand A8-12 in Pavilion F at SAT Expo from 2 to 4 October.

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