SkyPlexNet, the World's First Internet & TV Satellite Platform with a Regenerative Transponder becomes Operational.
Alenia Spazio, a Finmeccanica company, has completed the roll out of SkyPlexNet, the world''s first satellite platform to deliver Internet & TV services by using a regenerative transponder. This technology, developed by Alenia Spazio and available on the Eutelsat Hot Bird 5 satellite and in future on Hot Bird 6 and Arabsat 3B, will guarantee much more flexibility and lower operational costs for Service Providers with respect to traditional bent-pipe satellites.
The SkyPlexNet Operational Centre is located in Rome and is operated by Alenia Spazio. Its main function is to allocate the bandwidth to the Service Providers that are equipped with a dedicated up-link antenna and a Service Centre. Bandwidth can be sliced from 6 Mbps to 512 kbps and booked on demand also for a few hours, thus eliminating the need for a costly long-term lease. SkyPlexNet eliminates the tail costs incurred by the Service Providers when connecting to the Hub Stations via terrestrial lines using bent-pipe satellites.
Moreover, the Service Provider, being independent, can manage its own customer base, create and offer programme schedules with video streaming, Web-based video products, IP-multicast and provide interactive services through a terrestrial return path. Users of the Service Centre need only a PC with a DVB card and a parabola, while corporate users can be connected by a LAN router.
The commercial advantages of SkyPlexNet have recently been confirmed by three important contracts. The first is with Enel.it of Rome, a subsidiary of Enel (the national electricity provider), to create the first corporate Intranet between their 1,200 plants where there will be a total of about 50,000 active users. The second is with Openet of Matera (South Italy), a new entrepreneurial body backed by a premier group of industrialists that have decided to pool their resources and adopt SkyPlexNet to improve their day-by day business and offer services to external organisations such as public institutions. The third is with the Catholic University, the leading private university, which is considering adopting the SkyPlexNet platform to connect its remote locations and deliver live interactive courses. A further seven Service Centres are under development and will be operational between the end of this year and the first half of 2001 in Rome, Naples, Milan, Trieste and Lecce.
Once all the Service Centres are installed, between 30,000 and 50,000 users are expected throughout Italy within 12 months. With these contracts, Alenia Spazio becomes the first system supplier of turn-key solutions based on new-generation satellites with regenerative transponders, having developed the space technology for the Arabsat, Hot Bird 4, 5 and 6 satellites and integrated the Network Operational Centre and the Service Centres.
While the new services are operating first on SkyPlexNet, a new family of Skyplex units is under development and will fly on board the Eutelsat Hot Bird 6 satellite due for launch in early 2002. These units will include turbo-coding and lightweight components to reduce the size of the up-link antenna to 90 cm, for a 2 Mbps DVB MPEG stream, and the granularity of the bandwidth to a few tens of kilobits.
Alenia Spazio is actively promoting the utilisation of the SkyPlexNet system as part of its two-fold strategy to validate the new digital technologies of on-board processing, and take a share of the market to ease the commercial take-off of the upcoming EuroSkyWay satellites currently under development.
Skyplex, whose development was co-funded by the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency, has contributed to creating a new space product and a new network breaking the barriers for the utilisation of the satellites by Content Providers, companies and Internet Service Providers. It is the first step towards the new generation of satellites with on-board digital processing. For more information on SkyPlexNet, please see Related Links..