June 28, 1996
Following internal evaluation of a demonstration general purpose digital point-to-multipoint satellite distribution system, Inmarsat is sponsoring field trials for the aeronautical and marine environments. Square Peg Communications Inc. of Ottawa, Canada, a spin-off of Calian Communications Systems Ltd., is providing the transmit channel equipment and radio frequency receivers for these trials, to start in late 1996.
The Inmarsat Data Distribution System (IDDS) is designed to serve a diverse land, maritime and aeronautical mobile market for broadcast services. The transmission technique used, Variable-Carrier Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (VC-COFDM), is bandwidth efficient and extremely robust in the mobile broadcasting environment. Each VC-COFDM channel has a maximum aggregate capacity of approximately 128 kbit/s. This capacity is subdivided into datagram and stream-mode services at rates from 500 bps to 128 kbit/s with datagram capacity further segmented into 128 individual datagram virtual circuits. Both the total capacity and the service mix can be varied to accommodate the service requirements at any given time. A variety of receiver configurations is possible, ranging from a low-cost audio or text-based personal receiver to a multi-channel communal receiver providing multi-media services.
The aeronautical field trial will deliver real time audio and video programs as well as Internet-type applications to airline passengers. The aero-IDDS receiver will interface at L-band to the Inmarsat Aero-H Earth Station (AES) antenna and to the in-flight entertainment system, already installed on many long range commercial aircraft. The aero field trial was initiated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America (VOA), and British Airways (BA). Other airlines are considering installing receivers for the field trial.
The marine field trial will provide daily and weekly Radio Sweden audio broadcasts to an Inmarsat-A equipped merchant ship. The broadcasts will be played in real-time as well as stored for later playback. The trial equipment will also be used to distribute daily electronic copies of the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet to the ship. Crew members can peruse the newspaper at their leisure over the ships local area network. This trial was initiated by Telia Mobitel.
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