AmerHis soon fully operational
The AmerHis payload aboard Hispasat's Amazonas satellite is fully working and will soon be ready for service as confirmed by successful in-orbit testing and recent ground segment testing. Pilot operations are scheduled to begin shortly, with the intention of providing pre-operational services in the first half of 2005.
These tests confirm the AmerHis payload as capable of delivering multimedia content across Latin America and beyond. Ground segment tests for the AmerHis 'Switchboard in Space' were successfully completed at separate locations in Spain on 4 February 2005 and mark the first combined use of in-orbit and ground segment equipment.
Specifically, the tests checked how AmerHis handles network control and user terminals for video-conferencing. A link was established using two terminals at the Alcatel Espacio offices in Tres Cantos Spain (near Madrid) and a third terminal at Hispasat's control centre in Argando Spain (southeast of Madrid).
Located in geostationary orbit at 61 degrees West, AmerHis is carried aboard Hispasat's Amazonas satellite and heralds a new era in satellite communications. The first European telecommunications satellite with onboard processing, AmerHis will enable Hispasat to provide high performance interactive multimedia services to North America, South America and Europe.
Among the benefits to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be the ability to manage their own low-cost gateways, in turn providing reliable Internet access to subscribers. Corporate services will also profit. Companies with multiple branch offices will be able to more easily set up their own Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and share their allocated capacity between all branch offices.
The AmerHis payload will work like a switchboard in space, managed by a Network Control Centre on the ground able to configure the payload, assign capacity and manage user traffic. It also offers multiplexing and de-multiplexing of MPEG-2 transport streams that will extend the number of video services enormously. In addition, AmerHis supports a wide variety of applications and tele-services from video broadcasting on demand to videoconferencing.
This ambitious project is the product of a collaboration between Alcatel Espacio, Mier Communicaciones and Indra Espacio of Spain, Alcatel Space of France, EMS Technology from Canada and Nera ASA from Norway. It is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and supported by the Spanish Centre of the Industrial and Technological Development (CDTI). The international scope of the project represents symbolic cooperation between national agencies, operators and industry.
With coverage over all of Latin America, the United States and Canada as well as transatlantic capacity allowing coverage of Europe and northern Africa, not to mention the use of C and Ku bands, Amazonas is also a prime example of what can be done to bridge the digital divide.