Micro-Sat, an adaptor board that plugs into a Personal Computer to enable it to receive signals from a satellite earthstation, creat-ed by GTE SpaceNet and Norsat International Inc, has been introduced into the UK amid claims that it has cut the corporate communication costs of certain North American multi-nationals by up to 80%. Being marketed by Vista (Satellite) Ltd of London, the card has full audio, video and data receiving capabilities. It plugs into an MS-DOS micro accessory slot, works in the C- and Ku-Bands, and features synthesised tuning via EPROM, BCD switches or data buss. It operates with VC II, B-Mac and Oak descrambling systems, allows video invert and audio bandwiths to be selected using dip switches or the computer, and operates in the 950MHz to 1.45GHz range. To use the revolutionary new card – worldwide patents are pending – a company will have to rent a free subcarrier on a satellite transponder. This is done through British Telecom, the official transponder access dealer in the UK. Data is then sent to Tele-com, which uplinks to the satellite via Telecom Tower and the Woolwich Teleport. To downlink in a different country, a company would have to negotiate an agreement with the resident PTT. The company still needs a dish antenna to receive the information but thankfully one that is half the size of the usual six foot TV reception dish. Data can then be applied to any applications software. Vista is offering two models of Micro-Sat: one all-ows data to flow in only one direction and the other, known as the one and a half way service, has a standard auto-dial modem for typical point-to-point communications. One bridge Vista has to cross is British Telecom’s current ban on sending data by satellite, a state of affairs that arose during the company’s liberalisation when Kenneth Baker included a side letter to that effect. Betting shops The London-based company, primarily involved in satellite entertainment systems, is confident the letter will be rescinded in the next two months following increasing pressure from the Satellite Information Service, an organisation set up by a number of major bookmakers – William Hill, Mecca and Ladbroke included after they ran afoul of the British Telecom ban when they decided to show tele-vised races simultaneously with betting information and results from other courses in their betting shops. Vista is aiming the new product at systems builders and computer dealers but reckons if the British Telecom letter is not quashed, it will still be able to sell the things to Telecom and to Mercury Communications Ltd, the only two companies currently authorised to send data by satellite. It believes Micro-Sat will be particulary useful for companies which have data at electronic point of sales and also operate a video system for staff training. Instead of buying two sets of equipment, the satellite receiver card would allow both media to be transmitted simultaneously. An audio subcarrier is around UKP45,000 a year while the cards cost $500 to $1,000 apiece.
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