European Space Agency

AmerHis: first switchboard in space launched


Hispasat's Amazonas satellite was successfully launched from the Baïkonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 00:32 (CEST) on 5 August. On board was the AmerHis 'switchboard in space' payload.The launch of the AmerHis payload opens a new era in satellite communications. The programme demonstrates a dedication to commercial orientation and its introduction paves the way for the emergence of a new generation of satellite systems that will further enhance the claim that satellite communication is the most important application of space technology.

Direct benefit to the end user community
AmerHis will enable Hispasat to provide high performance interactive multimedia services on its four Ku band coverage zones: North America, South America, Brazil and Europe. 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.

Four Gateways to provide the access system to the terrestrial network and user terminals have been developed. These are completely directed to the commercial exploitation of new services with the result that these services such as high-speed Internet access, MPEG-based services, video and radio on demand will be available at a much lower cost.

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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 easily set up their own Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and share their allocated capacity between all branch offices.

The AmerHis payload 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.

Digital Divide
Because of AmerHis, Hispasat is able to offer broadband interconnectivity to users anywhere within the four geographical areas covered by Amazonas, with highly efficient usage of the space segment (single hop). It also allows Hispasat to differentiate its portfolio of services from those of its competitors and to position itself as one of the most advanced satellite operators on either side of the Atlantic. According to Hispasat: "The implementation of AmerHis in America will give us an essential strategic value for its implementation and provide a definite boost to our internationalisation and opening of new markets."

The ambitious project is the product of a collaboration between Alcatel Espacio, Mier Communicaciones and Indra Espacio of Spain, 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 an example of what can be done to bridge the digital divide.

Event Date

05 August 2004

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Published 27 June 2006
Last updated at 27 June 2006 - 10:10