Shin's next generation satellite service for Probe revealed

Satellite launch expected next month

Details of the ICONZ and Shin Satellite broadband service for schools in remote areas under the government's Project PROBE were revealed yesterday.

John Scott Russell, ICONZ research and development manager, says each school will have a fully bi-directional satellite link to ICONZ, with no other return path required. He says that the dishes will be small: "no larger than 1.2m, tops, and possibly smaller" with easy installation.

In terms of performance, it appears that the service runs faster than what was earlier quoted to Computerworld Online. According to IPstar New Zealand, the satellite provides 8Mbit/s downstream and 4Mbit/s upstream. IPstar1 has an aggregate bandwidth capacity of 40Gbit/s.

However, the actual amount of bandwidth that schools will use depends on their requirements, says Russell.

"There is no point in giving the full bandwidth to a school that just wants to use the connection for email and basic web research," he says. Schools wanting to full interactive video conferencing and media-on-demand services will need to consider high bandwidth connections, Russell adds.

Declaring himself "very impressed" with Shin's next-generation satellite service, Russell says the latency measured as round-trips for packets varies between 400 to 600ms, which "is as good as it'll get with satellite".

"Once the satellite connection is up," Russell says, "ICONZ can deliver any kind of IP-based solution to the school — ADSL-style NAT, static IP addresses, full VPN services, anything." According to Russell, the network has full Quality of Service capability for traffic prioritisations of applications like Voice over IP and video conferencing. Russell says ICONZ has a large number of services that can be delivered to the schools over the network and believes they will be immensely valuable resources for the schools involved.

IPstar1 was scheduled to launch in 2003 by the troubled French Ariane 5 rocket in French Guyana, but Russell says it will instead be put into orbit next month. The satellite weighs 6,700kg and has a 12-year design life with 14MW power, and is designed to carry a mix of 80 Ku-band and 10 Ka-band transponders.

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