Results from the recently completed AmerHis in-orbit tests report that the payload is operating extremely well; this was made known during the 7th Coordination Meeting at ESA’s research and technology centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, The Netherlands on 14 December 2004.

The AmerHis Co-ordination Group also discussed and agreed that pilot operations should begin earlier than previously expected, with the intention of providing pre-operational services in the first half of 2005.  

In addition to ESA representatives, also in attendance were Mr A. Abad, Technical Director from Hispasat, Mr C. Quintana, JCB Delegate (Spain) from the CDTI as well as Mr F. Ortega, Director of Technology and Mr A. Cal, Project Leader, both from Alcatel Space.

Launched less than two months ago and now located in geostationary orbit at 61 degrees West, AmerHis is carried aboard Hispasat’s Amazonas satellite and heralds a new era in satellite communications. The first European telecommunications satellite with onboard processing, AmerHis will enable Hispasat to provide high performance interactive multimedia services to North America, South America and Europe.

Among the benefits to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be the ability to manage their own low-cost gateways, in turn providing reliable Internet access to subscribers. Corporate services will also profit. Companies with multiple branch offices will be able to more easily set up their own Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and share their allocated capacity between all branch offices.

The AmerHis payload will work like a switchboard in space, managed by a Network Control Centre on the ground able to configure the payload, assign capacity and manage user traffic. It also offers multiplexing and de-multiplexing of MPEG-2 transport streams that will extend the number of video services enormously. In addition, AmerHis supports a wide variety of applications and tele-services from video broadcasting on demand to videoconferencing.

This ambitious project is the product of a collaboration between Alcatel Espacio, Mier Communicaciones and Indra Espacio of Spain, Alcatel Space of France, EMS Technology from Canada and Nera ASA from Norway. It is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and supported by the Spanish Centre of the Industrial and Technological Development (CDTI). The international scope of the project represents symbolic cooperation between national agencies, operators and industry.

With coverage over all of Latin America, the United States and Canada as well as transatlantic capacity allowing coverage of Europe and northern Africa, not to mention the use of C and Ku bands, Amazonas is also a prime example of what can be done to bridge the digital divide