LEO WILL SOON BE HERE
Toshi, your business partner in Hong Kong, has the latest specifications and costs on that new electronic wonder product you created.
The details are confidential, it's too complicated and costly to
explain over the phone, and the fax may not give the privacy she
prefers. What to do? Call LEO MSS, of course.
LEO's full name is Low-Earth Orbit Mobile Satellite Service. LEO,
along with his 24-unit squadron, will be continually circling the
globe at an average altitude of 480 miles, arranged in a formation
that allows just seconds between one satellite flying within range of
your transceiver and the unit following. (You will almost always be
able to contact LEO & friends, be you in a vehicle or elsewhere).
Both you and your Hong Kong colleague have LEO's schedule so she
turns on her hand-held ORBCOMM transmitter, weighing under 12 oz.
(under 6 oz. for the emergency terminal). When LEO comes within
range, the computerized hand-held unit zaps up the data (via a simple
whip antennae), which is received and held by LEO as he crosses the
Pacific at around 4,000 MPH. When LEO passes over your west coast
(or other) city, the transported data is zapped down to your small
hand-held or fixed receiver. Since the investment in the skies is
but a fraction of that spent on costly (22,300' altitude) geostationary satellites, the price for Leo's service will be much
lower. On the ground your hand-held unit costs but a minute fraction
of having a large commercial or even a lower-priced home-receiving
satellite dish ... again contributing to lower costs for this newer
method of data transmission. LEO MSS is also handling thousands, and
eventually perhaps millions of other data packets. LEO and his
orbiting colleagues are picking up and dropping off messages all the
time. Consider LEO & friends a sort of celestial electronic Federal
Express. And they are fast.
The company first into this field is Orbital Sciences Corporation
(OSC) of Fairfax, Virginia. Orbital launched their first experimental
unit, ORCOMM-X, from an Ariane French rocket blasted off July 16,
1991 from Kourou, French Guiana. It is orbiting successfully, but an
uncorrected glitch has prevented the unit from communicating with OSC
scientists. However, the problem will eventually be solved. When
operating, this will be the first practical use of VHF (Very High
Frequency) frequencies in commercial service.
ORBCOMM's hand-held emergency terminal will allow flyers, hunters,
explorers and ordinary travelers to always "keep in touch". Past
costs for expensive search and rescue operations should be greatly
reduced once those light, hand-held units are in universal distribution. LEO will also be able to monitor moving boxcars or ocean
buoys, highway traffic, containers and hazardous materials, track
animals, contact trucks or emergency vehicles, collect and distribute
weather data, monitor river levels, watch your cottage in the country
or beam down directions to a disabled friend in his wheelchair. LEO
will do all this using less than one MHz of bandwidth in the broadcast spectrum. Your world will never be the same.
First to sign a tie-in agreement with ORBCOMM to market the service
was the largest power corporation in Venezuela, Telecommunicaciones
de Caracas (TDC), a subsidiary of C.A. La Electricidad de Caracas,
which provides electricity to more than 5 million people in the City
of Caracas. According to OSC I was interest from various Canadian
sources is high but no firm deals as yet. ORBCOMM has applied for
"Pioneer Preference Status" from the U.S. Federal Communications
Commission (FCC), which would, if FCC's new rules are adopted,
provide preferential status for ORBCOMM under the new proceedural
I may even send my columns to my editor this way. LEO can always
find him at a golf course.
Laura Ayres, Public Relations Manager,
Orbital Sciences Corporation,
12500 Fair Lakes Circle,
Fairfax, Virginia 22033.
Phone: 703/818-2891. Fax: 703/631-3610.
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