European Space Agency

Advanced Multimedia Van debuts for the first European Satellite UMTS demonstration


The European Space Agency's Multimedia Van was on display at the ASMS Conference 2003 at ESRIN in Frascati Italy on July 10 and 11 for the first European Satellite UMTS demonstration.

Designed to be the prototype city car, the vehicle is equipped with on-board instrumentation providing multimedia tools such as a GPS navigation system, radio, TV, DVD player and VHS video recorder. Also onboard are four PC's, three monitors (excluding the driver) and three webcams, as well as a 100 Mbps Ethernet and 11 Mbps WLAN which allow service provision to laptops located within several meters of the van.

The van was used as a platform to host the instrumentation portion of the Satellite UMTS Advanced Test Bed (ATB) which demonstrates advanced mobile satellite applications and services. This innovative ARTES 5 funded project was presented for the first time during the ASMS Conference and exemplifies the promise of the future of European satellite mobile telecommunications systems.


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A maximum downlink data rate of 384 Kbps can be supported with the ESA developed W-CDMA modems following adaptations of the terrestrial UMTS 3GPP standard. Uplink data rate can be as high as 128 Kbps. This allows the delivery of multimedia services to the three users sitting inside the van. This 'mobile office' can be used to view, check and store information on location. A database allows real-time off-line analysis while the vehicle is in motion.

The ESA proposed S-UMTS standard was accepted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European Telecommunication Standardisation Institute (ETSI) as part of the IMT-2000 air interfaces family. In addition to the connection-oriented services, it also offers packet-mode, location based and reliable multicast services, by means of evolved upper-layer protocols. Reliable multicast allows the provision of multimedia content to a large user community over a very wide region (e.g. Europe). Information caching in the van allows local retrieval of user customized audio, video clips and digital data.

During the first demonstration at the ASMS conference, a satellite communication link connecting, via the L-band payload of the ESA's ARTEMIS satellite, the satellite gateway at Lario (near Milano, Italy) to the mobile terminal (the multimedia van) located at Rome was established, which was able to provide the user sitting at the van internet connection "on the move" for web browsing and e-mail services.

Other services that can be provided by the ATB S-UMTS testbed are: reliable multicast with local caching capabilities, ftp, weather reports, latest news, MP (3/EG), videoconference and localisation based services.

ESA plans more public demonstration of this S-UMTS platform throughout 2003. The next public event is planned to take place during the ESA's Eighth International Workshop on Signal Processing for Space Communications which will take place in Catania (Italy), September 24-26, 2003.

Event Date

21 July 2003
Published 29 November 2012
Last updated at 29 November 2012 - 14:15