Newtec signs multi-million Euro ESA contract

18 June 2001

In terms of commercial European ground segment activities, the Belgian satellite communications system provider Newtec has been a huge success, with ESA playing a major role in helping them achieve this.

ESA Telecom, in its supportive role to companies developing new business opportunities, helped pave the way for Newtec's quantum leap from equipment manufacturer to complete satellite communications system provider. Newtec in return has a glowing record of achievements in the commercial arena, some resulting from ESA developments.

Originally starting with ESA contracts on Olympus in the 1980's, Newtec now employs over 90 people, aiming with the newly signed substantial ARTES 4 (ESA-Industry Partnership) contract to become a system company for satellite multimedia networks alongside fellow Belgian sub-contractor Alcatel Bell.

The contract is for the Development of a DVB-RCS System and testing in a Validation Network - a new system aimed at providing an IP access network based on the emerging DVB-RCS standard. This new open standard, the development of which ESA has played an important role in, provides a return channel via satellite to systems based on the DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) standard. The DVB-RCS standard allows for interoperability between equipment from various manufacturers. This results in economy of scale for production of standardised low-cost satellite terminals, which is key to the future of interactive multimedia satellite communications.

Related to the system development the company recently signed a contract with Spacebridge (CDN) for the production of related hardware. The first target customer for the new DVB-RCS system is a start-up company, Aramiska, who will exploit the system for the provision of high-speed Internet access services. The objective is to set up a network including one hub station and around 10.000 satellite interactive terminals (SITs).

The contract signature took place at the occasion of a recent ESA board meeting on satellite communication programmes held in Brugges on the 31 of May. Delegations of ESA member states representing their countries in the ESA Telecom programmes and Belgian Government Commissioner in charge of Scientific Research, Mr Yvan Ylieff were present at the ceremony.

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