Status date

China is in the early process of deploying DTH services soon to be followed by interactive TV services. The purpose of the iSatTV project is to establish the solid roots for the development of an operational satellite-based interactive TV solution ready to be successfully deployed in China.

This project aims at proving that the Satmode technology is mature enough for a deployment in China and for being used as a basis for satellite interactivity support in the Chinese DTH standard. Concurrently to this effort, the business models and roll-out processes have to be clarified, so that it is possible to define the requirements of a platform complying with the actual Chinese user and operator needs.

The iSatTV project achieves those objectives through:

  • A study of the specific elements of the Chinese iTV and DTH market,

  • The execution of pilot user demonstrations with a Satmode-based hub,

  • The collection of specific and detailed requirements for the future iTV platform,

  • The execution of developments needed to obtain modulators compliant with the DTH ABS-S standards.
The completion of those objectives will maximize the likelihood of getting an adequate satellite interactive TV platform in China.

The key issues addressed by the project are:

  • To eliminate distrust of people in unproven technology by demonstrating the capabilities and interest of satellite technology for interactive TV applications,

  • To support Chinese interactive DTH standardisation through technology and application demonstration,

  • To show the potential of such technology for huge countries like China,

  • To help clarify the business plans and roll-out plans soon enough so that adequate platforms can be deployed,

  • To help main operators define detailed requirements in the expected platform so that they can be taken into account in the final platform,

  • To convert DVB-S2 modulators into powerful ABS-S modulator for China.

This project will bring as benefits:

  • It will educate an emerging market to the potential of the satellite for interactive applications,

  • It will demonstrate Newtec know-how and expertise in satellite interactive systems and shows their applicability in countries like China,

  • It will improve Newtec knowledge of the likely market business cases and roll-out plans, so that the iSatTV platform can be adapted to support those business cases in the most efficient ways,

  • It will provide a very detailed list of practical requirements on what Chinese operators need in order to customize its platform to the specificities of the Chinese market,

  • It will enable Newtec to offer products adapted to the Chinese market.

The iSatTV system, based on the Satmode technology, provides a 2-way satellite connectivity between a hub and consumer premises. It consists in a Hub with Forward and Return Link capabilities coupled with interactive consumer equipment. The Hub is based on a standard architecture for the Forward Link complemented with the equipment needed to implement a return link on another satellite channel. Global modules are added or modified to manage the new hub and enable forward and return communication between the hub and the terminals.

In iSatTV, both the hub and the terminals have been developed in order to reduce equipment costs and render the iSatTV business model economically feasible.

A general view of a complete iSatTV system is given below.

click for larger image

The development of the hub and terminals has been performed through the Satmode project. Only the integration work of a hub for the specific Sinosat demonstration platform are considered in this project. In this deployment, the configuration based on a unique iLNB and on an add-on box is used.

Running on the iSatTV hub and set-top boxes, an Interactive Application implementing web browsing, SMS exchanges between STBs and to mobile phones and E-mail exchanges is demonstrated.

In parallel, modulators compliant with the ABS-S specification are being developed. Those will include a Group Delay Compensation to improve performances. The adaptation of DVB-S2 modulators to meet the ABS-S specificities and the developments for the implementation of Group Delay Compensation are performed in the context of this project too.

The key project milestones are as follows:


  • Hub deployment in Sinosat premises in Beijing: July 2006,

  • Start of satellite iTV demonstration: December 2006,

  • Expected standardization of Chinese DTH standard and grant of DTH licence to a Chinese operator: Summer 2007,

  • Partnership discussion with future DTH operator: Summer 2007,

  • Development of ABS-S modulators for China, with a new Group Delay compensation feature: S1 2007.
Phase 2 (conditional to DTH standard issued and partnership with DTh operator succeeded):

  • Phase 2 start: September 2007,

  • Market study completion: March 2008,

  • Platform requirement completion: March 2008.
Current status

Project Achievements

The iSatTV hub was deployed in Beijing in July 2007, along with 6 set-top boxes in Sinosat premises. Demonstrations were executed in front of major players on the DTH market.
However, various events slowed down the market evolution towards DTH and subsequenctly interactive TV by satellite:

  • The partial failure of Sinosat in preventing it from being used for DTH and later iTV services,

  • The important delays in the issuance of the first DTH operator license,
  • A rising uncertainty in the DTH market evolution linked to the previous events.
This reduced considerably the interest and proactivity of the market in exploring interactive TV solutions, refocusing people on more short-term goals like DTH. For these reasons, the demonstrations only attracted the main DTH players active at the moment, like Sinosat, Chinasat, ABS, ABRS, etc. No receivers were deployed in customer premises. As a consequence, the phase 2 of the project will not be executed.

The hub was shipped back to Belgium in June 2007.

The iSatTV project produced some very important results both on the technical and business side:

  • First convincing demonstration of the suitability of satellite offering interactive TV service to consumers,

  • First demonstration of the maturity of the iSatTV technology for launching an actual interactive TV service,

  • Inclusion in the interactive part of the Chinese DTH standard of a Satmode-inspired satellite return channel,

  • Start of business discussions with ABS and Sinosat about the possible use of the Sat3Play platform to offer interactive services,

  • Development of a ABS-S modulator and availability now as a product,

  • Development of a group delay compensation function now available on Newtec modulators.
In conclusion, Newtec considers this project has reached most of its objectives, with positive short-term returns through new products and features and positive long-term returns through convincing demonstrations of the suitability of its satellite-based technology to offer interactive services.