Status date

Sat-n-Surf aims to take the results of Sat@Once, a previous ARTES-3 project, and bring it additional tools and the means to become a full-sized new broadcasting medium on par with popular radio or television.

Sat@Once developed a satellite webcasting technology, called Casablanca, to distribute the best of the Internet to all DVB-Data receivers under the flagship of SES ASTRA.

Casablanca is a technology that takes advantage of the strong value of satellite transmission, which is broadcasting. It sends the same transmission to all listeners. This approach is the opposite to the familiar point-to-point approach (unicast) of the Internet, where data goes from one source to only one destination.

Taking advantage of the huge satellite capacity, Casablanca acts as a "virtual matchmaker". On the local PC of the user it runs a "Magic Mirror" that matches together the personal interests of any given user and profiles of the content that is sent by satellite. In other words, the Magic Mirror "catches" all the information of the day that may be of interest to his master.

Casablanca is attractive both to the end-user and to the Content Provider: the user keeps the privacy of his preferences, while the Content Provider is guaranteed that his message will reach those that are interested in it. A message can be information, entertainment or advertisement, and may be pre-existing on the Web or specially created for broadcasting. It reaches its target population "automagically".

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In Sat-n-Surf, the Casablanca technology was improved by SES ASTRA and CRP Henri-Tudor:

  • It was adapted for higher amounts of data transmission,

  • It supports multiple transmission streams with the

The key issue addressed in the project is the large number of existing users to be supported; many of them do not upgrade often and have various PC and browser configurations. The software releases must be very well tested and validated in several versions of Windows. Each feature, such as a change in the archive format, must be available several releases before the effective date of the change of the feature in the transmission in order to remain compatible across a large number of users.


The expected benefit brought by the project is to initiate a new webcasting entertainment media in addition to radio and television and to bring more business to the satellite telecommunication industry.


The architecture of the system developed in the project is composed of several layers of detail.

Deustche Welle built and used an integrated platform to create webcasting contents, validate them and send them as contribution to the main Sat@Once production platform. In addition it needs to monitor on a real Sat@Once client the webcasting results of content automatically produced from existing web and broadcast formats.

SES ASTRA and CRP Henri Tudor developed and expanded further the existing Casablanca technology and Sat@Once production platform to support a larger volume of data as well as multiple transmitters in the future.

TechniSat adapted their existing PC Tuning application to support the IP Notification Table.

The project plan was composed of 3 phases which match the evaluation plan of Deutsche Welle (DW).

Phase 1: adapt existing DW formats of their online web site to enrich the contents of Sat@Once,

Phase 2: create new formats exclusive to Sat@Once and evaluate their impact on the increase in audience,

Phase 3: spawn another public webcasting service in parallel to Sat@Once and evaluate the increase in audience.

To match this plan, TechniSat, CRP Henri Tudor SES ASTRA also gradually developed and released several versions of the software (2 to 3 times a year during the 2 years of the project) to anticipate the performance needs to support the DW content.
Current status

The project started in September 2004. The multi-transponder tuning application of TechniSat was successfully released commercially. The project distributed more than 190.000 copies of the free receiver software through its official web sites. It identified more than 80.000 unique voters (by voting for web sites they reported anonymously to have used the service). The service is directly compatible with iTunesTM and supports standard podcasting and vodcasting.

Sat@Once transmission was moved to 23.5ºE in June 2006 and exhibited the same number of voters during the first 3 months on 23.5ºE as during the last 3 months on 19.2ºE. This proved that the users of the service are not linked to a single popular orbital position. Satellite-wise, they are opinion leaders and early adopters.
The Pilot Test has been carried out extensively for 2 months with 80 identified volunteers from all Europe, both on 19.2ºE and 23.5ºE. After 2 months, 50 pilot users have carried out all the detailed tests required from them. All pilot users have found significant filtering improvement with the tool developed by CRP-Henri Tudor and LORIA, with almost no impact on robustness, speed and memory size.

However this filtering and profiling could not be applied to enhance messages from advertisers because of lack of interest of the latter. Therefore the strategy of evolution is to propose the technology to public broadcasters to carry their podcasts and vodcasts to a large population at a very low unit cost. Promising contacts are being made with satellite operators in Far-East Asia.