Press Release

ESA backing SATMODE, interactivity via satellite for consumers

By SpaceRef Editor
January 31, 2003
Filed under ,

The European Space Agency (ESA) has joined forces with
a team led by SES Astra (Lux) on a SATMODE development
contract totalling EUR 49 million.

SATMODE is a satellite return link system providing
‘always-on’ connectivity between digital TV set top
boxes — the interactive version of commercial satellite
TV receivers — and content providers. This interactive
terminal should add less than EUR 50 to the actual cost
of a commercial set top box and antenna providing the
possibility of real time interactivity and more.

On 27 January in Paris the contract was signed between
Claudio Mastracci, ESA Director of Applications Programmes,
and Ferdinand Kayser, President and CEO of SES Astra.

Commenting on the contract, Mr Kayser said, “SATMODE will
rejuvenate the broadcasters’ subscription and advertising
revenue models by providing instant interactivity and
individualised content to viewers.”

The SATMODE system is set to enable permanent, real time
responses by millions of TV viewers to content provider’s
programmes. It will also allow additional services such
as SMS, televoting, management of personal video
recorders, access control, pay per view and other impulse
transactions.

Upon signature of the contract, Mr Claudio Mastracci
commented, “ESA is committed to support developments that
reduce the risk to implement commercially viable satcom
innovations. In particular, the user terminal is one of
the most critical factors for success in the consumer
market. SATMODE is a prominent example of the special
attention that ESA is devoting to user terminals and
applications.”

Both ESA and SES Astra are focusing on a market driven
development strategy, reflected by the project’s phasing
and partners. In phase 1, Canal+ Technologies (F) and
Newtec (B) will design, assemble and integrate the
end-to-end SATMODE system by December 2003, leading to
a technical (phase 2) and commercial field trial in 2004
(phase 3).

Thomson (F) will build the interactive Set Top Boxes
(iSTB) alongside ST Microelectronics (I). The system
will be field tested by a panel of Canal Satellite’s
subscribers, with applications proposed by Canal+
Technologies and Canal Satellite.

SES Astra is acting as prime contractor, with its parent
company SES Global (Lux), providing management and
validation of the complete system, to be operative using
Astra 1H Ka band capacity at 19.2 deg East.

The contract amounts to EUR 49 million, each partner
investing 50% of its contribution, ESA matching the 50%
through the Telecommunications programme. Furthermore,
SES Astra has committed to release the system interface
specification as soon as possible within the next 18
months, to allow the emergence of an “open system”
which could be freely adopted by other industries and
broadcasters for new interactive applications.

Related links

* ESA Telecom homepage

http://telecom.esa.int/telecom/www/language/index.cfm?flanguageid=5

* ESA Telecom — User segment

http://telecom.esa.int/telecom/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=20

* SES-Astra

http://www.ses-astra.com

* Canal Satellite

http://www.canalsatellite.fr

* Canal+ Technologies

http://www.canalplus-technologies.com/

* ST Microelectronics

http://us.st.com/stonline/index.shtml

* Newtec

http://www.newtec.be/

* Thomson

http://www.lcr.thomson-csf.fr/

IMAGE CAPTIONS:

[Image 1:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEMS0G1A6BD_index_1.html]
Mr Mastracci (ESA) (left) and Mr Kayser (SES Astra) (right)
shake hands over the SATMODE development contract on 27
January 2003. Credits: ESA

[Image 2:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEMS0G1A6BD_index_1.html#subhead1]
On 27 January in Paris the contract was signed between
Claudio Mastracci, ESA Director of Applications Programmes,
and Ferdinand Kayser, President and CEO of SES Astra.
Credits: ESA

[Image 3:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEMS0G1A6BD_index_1.html#subhead2]
Upon signature of the contract, Mr. Claudio Mastracci
commented, “ESA is committed to support developments that
reduce the risk to implement commercially viable satcom
innovations. In particular, the user terminal is one of
the most critical factors for success in the consumer
market. SATMODE is a prominent example of the special
attention that ESA is devoting to user terminals and
applications.” Credits: ESA

SpaceRef staff editor.