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New direct TV technology for automobiles

Once ISRO puts enhanced systems in place, you can watch your favourite TV channel anywhere -- even in jungles.

business Updated: Jan 08, 2006 16:39 IST

Betting big on the direct-to-home television boom, Indian Space Research Organisation has embarked on an ambitious project which would enable reach of TVs far and wide, even on mobile platforms such as cars.

The implications are exciting. Once ISRO puts enhanced and more powerful systems in place, you can watch your favourite TV channel from anywhere -- even in jungles and remotest regions.

"If you can reach the TV signals to mobile platforms like cars, trucks and things like that, it's going to be a big boon. So, we have embarked on a project of that kind... That in less than three years we should be able to put into operation," ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said in an interview.

He said ISRO would work towards what it takes -- make Ku band transponders more powerful, increase the size of antenna deployed in space, and compress the bandwidth required for transmission -- to take television pictures right into the automobiles.

At present in Ku band transponders, because of power restrictions as well as frequency of operation, one requires an antenna in half a diameter that's pointed towards the satellite, Nair said.

"If you want to go for mobile applications, you require a very high power on one side, and secondly, it should be concentrated so that at the receiving end, small patch antenna on the rooftop of car will be able to pick up (TV) signals.

"We have to go for a new development of deployable antenna. Today we are using a two diameter antenna. (For mobile applications) we have to deploy a five to six diametre antenna in space," Nair said.

Besides, power level has to be three to four times larger than what is being used now. "We also have to compress the bandwidth required for transmission...Bring down two MHz per second to 500 KHz per second...It can be effectively used."

Once ISRO achieves these objectives, Nair expects a huge global market for this technology.

"Especially for African region and developing countries, this becomes a unique resource," he said.

ISRO is also not loosing sight of the home segment.

In fact, it has planned to deploy as many as 24 additional Ku band transponders -- that enable transmission of an estimated 288 DTH channels, a whopping figure -- by the end of the calendar year to meet the requirements of the likes of Doordarshan, Sun TV and Zee TV.

INSAT-4C that ISRO planned to launch in April-May period from Sriharikota, is a dedicated satellite for DTH applications with 12 KU band transponders.

INSAT-4B, slated to be launched by Arianespace from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana sometime in the middle of this year, is also equipped with 12 Ku band transponders.

"Today, for DTH transmission, demand is going up. We already have about 17 Ku band transponders, including 12 recently launched (INSAT-4A). We need another 24. With that we will be just meeting the total requirement of the country", Nair said.

The ISRO Chairman rejected criticism from some quarters with the way all the 12 Ku band transponders in INSAT-4A were leased to Tata-Sky, the DTH joint venture of the Tatas and Rupert Murdoch controlled Star Group.

"It went through a normal process of tendering and all these things and they (Tata-Sky) were the first people ready to use it. We cannot afford to keep them (Ku band transponders) idle. Whoever is ready, we are giving them, it's purely need-based", Nair added.

First Published: Jan 08, 2006 16:39 IST