Worldspace’s AsiaStar sold for Chinese broadband scheme

A new joint-venture, backed by New York Satellite Holdings (a subsidiary of New York Broadband 2) and CMMB Vision Holdings of Hong Kong, has bought the old Worldspace AsiaStar satellite operating at 105 deg East.  The plan is to add two satellites to AsiaStar – which has a limited life remaining – and start beaming mobile entertainment to users in China.

The new owners say they will add two new satellites to AsiaStar’s existing L-band frequencies and have issued an RFI (‘request for information’) as a precursor to ordering two new craft. An initial order will be placed later this year and the first satellite is scheduled for launch early in 2017. The second craft will be ordered later in 2015. The satellites will be co-located at 105 deg East.

The plan is to cover China with new broadband-by-satellite services and in particular mobile entertainment, and then to roll out the concept to India where it says it already has MOUs in place.

New York Broadband owns and operates 12 UHF terrestrial TV stations in the US, and has been testing the CMMB transmission technology on its New York City TV stations.

The satellites will be equipped with next generation technologies such as high-power, interactive and broadcast-unicast convergence to render unprecedented mobile multimedia and Internet services directly to all mobile users never available before. NYSH will own and operate these spacecraft, and CMMB Vision is expected to lease 100% of their capacity for the mobile multimedia services in China and other parts of Asia.

The Company says it has entered into an MOU with a leading Chinese State-level media group to develop and operate satellite-based mobile multimedia services nationwide in China. CMMB believes it can quickly reach commercial operation given China’s huge internal mobile media and Internet service demand, vast and low-cost mobile ecosystem, and government support. A trial network in Beijing is being established currently.

The founder and president of CMMB Vision is Charles (Chau-Chi) Wong, an American educated Hong Kong entrepreneur who will facilitate the raising of the financial resources required to develop and operate the mobile multimedia service.

The company’s CTO is Dr. Hui Liu, the American scientist who developed the Converged Mobile Multimedia Broadcast (CMMB) standard that has been officially adopted by Chinese regulators for mobile hand-held television. (In China, the standard is called “China Mobile Multimedia Broadcast.”). Dr. Liu is also the principal developer for TD-SCDMA (China 3G), OFDMA/LTE, and the Next Generation Broadcasting-Wireless (NGB-W), which is the next generation of CMMB.

“CMMB is the emerging global standard for next generation mobile video and broadcast services because it allows for faster and more efficient delivery of multimedia and Internet data,” said Wong. “With the capacity from these new satellites, our users will be able to enjoy unlimited mobile video viewing and data downloads anytime, anywhere at a fraction of current mobile data costs. Through the efficiencies of broadcasting, the cost of delivery of programming is between $0.01 and $0.05 per GB, compared to $10 to $15 per GB for mobile multimedia services using cellular networks. Thousands of HD movies and hundreds of thousands of songs can be downloaded to each user everyday at a fraction of current mobile data cost and without traffic [problems].”

The CMMB standard is similar to Europe’s DVB-SH standard for digital video broadcasting from both satellites and terrestrial repeaters to handheld devices. Mobile television delivery using the CMMB standard via terrestrial networks is already widespread in China, with service in over 350 cities. The service began during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has since grown to over 50 million devices in use, manufactured by such major companies as Samsung, Motorola, LG, HTC, and Huawei.

“Evolving from the CMMB standard, the Company in partnership with SARFT of China has developed the Next Generation Broadcasting – Wireless (NGB-W) standard as well as its convergence with 4G/LTE so as to unify the power of broadcasting with the interactive flexibility of unicasting. Popular and common data will be intelligently delivered to the mass market via the broadcast platform while individualised content will be delivered over the unicast platform, thereby optimising traffic delivery,” says a press statement.

“Such hybrid technology is essential for coping with the anticipated explosive demand in the coming mobile multimedia era. And when combined with a satellite platform, the capacity of such a network will be vastly increased, allowing for exponential growth in the number of subscribers, expected to increase a thousand-fold in the next decade.”

The Company is working with NYSH, which will deploy next generation high-power L-band satellites that will adopt the company’s CMMB/NGB-W technology for broadcast downlink and s-LTE for unicast return interactivity.

Space Partnership International LLC of Bethesda, MD, has been engaged to assist NYSH with matters related to the project planning, procurement of satellites and launch services as well as insurance, service development and regulatory activities.

The Company says it views China as its flagship market, where its partnerships with government and private enterprises will create the world’s first convergent satellite platform. The ecosystem of satellite-compatible devices is expected to develop quickly by leveraging the existing vast and mature CMMB-compatible supply chain.

Diverse services are being planned, which include universal mobile entertainment and data delivery; end-to-end content delivery solutions for mobile carriers and over-the-top providers; logistics and media services for motor vehicles, ships, and planes; and public services such as remote education, safety monitoring, and emergency alerts.

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