Look to the skies and, if your eyesight is on a par with Lee Majors, the Bionic Man, you may be able to see the new $500m telecoms satellite launched yesterday as it sails into position above the US. Set to distribute live TV channels to mobile devices, once operational it will be able to deal with between ten and fifteen simultaneous streams. It’s also powerful enough to require no dish in order to broadcast.
According to the company behind the satellite, ICO Global Communications, the new TV system will be capable of providing live and stored TV in handsets and moving vehicles, interactive navigation and other two-way services. Called DVB-SH, its key advantage over existing mobile media technologies (such as DVB-H and MediaFLO) is its nationwide coverage – courtesy of the new bird hanging over the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands – and improved building penetration. The first DVB-SH system to be launched in the US, there are currently no compatible devices but this should change by the 2009 launch.
Blasting off from Cape Canaveral at 4.12pm on Monday afternoon, the Atlas 5 rocket picked to transport the new satellite was a staggering 19-stories high. Weighing the equivalent of four sedan cars, this was the biggest such satellite to be carried by an Atlas 5. Research, testing and construction added up to an estimated half-billion dollar price tag.