Logo: TUG TORONTO USERS GROUP for Midrange Systems
e -server magazine

November 1997: Volume 13, Number 2

Satellite Systems

By Joan Burek  Figure 1. Frame Relay

Question: What does a gas station sell?

Answer: Chocolate bars, Internet services, fast food, banking services, dry cleaning, lottery tickets, clothes, audio/video tapes, phone cards, movie passes, convenience food/products, and, oh yeah, gas, oil, and automotive-related products and services.

Question: What does a grocery store sell?

Answer: Drug store products & services, wine and beer, Internet services, chocolate bars, greeting cards, movie passes, fast food, banking services, lawn furniture, plants and shrubs, dry cleaning, lottery tickets, clothes, audio/video tapes, phone cards, and, oh yeah, groceries.

he grocery and gas industries' foray into non-traditional products & services, and kiosked "partner" operations have enabled them to possess greater consumer time-, mind- and wallet-share. The grocery and gas station's diverse products and services entice clientele to abandon secondary excursions to department, hardware, drug, etc. stores and to concentrate the purchasing power within the confines of their "all-servicing" outlet.



Communications facilities required to deliver innovative, "big city" applications, sensitive to regional need, at competitive cost.

Innovative, "big city" applications for "all-servicing" firms involve applications far beyond those of the primary business. Dependent upon the number of kiosked "businesses" (such as ABMs, lottery tickets, video/audio sales, movie passes, wine/beer, etc.), the number of communications links, originating from the "all-servicing" site grow far beyond the "one for data -- one for voice/facsimile".

The following table reviews the common applications from the "all-servicing" site with an identification whether company-internal or external communications are required.

In "big city" Canada, all these applications are well served through a variety of public and private terrestrial network facilities. However, in the more remote locations where partnered (or kiosked) businesses make the greatest sense, due to the sharing of facilities, personnel and systems, satellite systems are acknowledged as the opportunity / application builder.

Due to its consistent pricing, ability to simultaneously carry many diverse communications applications (data, voice and video), geographical insensitivity and recent enhancements to its LAN portfolio, satellite systems are currently enjoying an interest and deployment resurgence.

Satellite systems offer gas, grocery (and many other) firms the ability to deploy "big city" applications advantages anywhere. It allows them to extend the reach of their multiple partnerships and maintain the necessary "familiarity" of service throughout Canada.

Satellite's business enablers include:

With the satellite systems of today, all business enablers can be deployed to maximize the effectiveness of the remote site. So ....

 Figure 2. End-to-end Applications Consistency

Applications Consistency

The "consumer expectation of similar products and services regardless of location" seldom takes into account communications and cost challenges. Satellite systems, however, are the great "equalizers" that permit the application / kiosked operation national, and even international reach.

Just as terrestrial communications have evolved (from X.25 to Frame Relay to ATM), satellite systems have evolved as well to accommodate for LAN-based (Token Ring and Ethernet), protocol-specific (ISO Poll / Select (Canada's Credit / Debit Protocol)), scheme-variable (contention, fixed w/dynamic allocation, contention w/dynamic allocation), network-ready (Frame Relay, X.25) solutions to extend the "big city" applications into remote, under-served locations.

 Figure 3. National Reach

National / International Reach

The new price list radically changes -- immediate delivery is necessary to all remote sites. Federal regulations change the method of tracking environmental concerns -- the news bulletin must be delivery immediately to all remote sites. Credit / debit authorization must be cost-effectively deployed.

Satellite systems provide the right kind of access, whether one-way or two-way, whether voice, data (serial and LAN-based), or video, throughout Canada.

Satellite brings immediate reach to all remote sites, and can be leveraged to provide access to all of the internal as well as external applications.

Terrestrial / Satellite Network Integration

Terrestrial services, such as frame relay, provide excellent high speed access capabilities that serve all internal and external LAN/serial applications. And, these service permit the deployment of higher visibility, greater consumer services and applications.

Satellite services integrate with any terrestrially-based network to provide a seamless, consistent network presence to any central site.  Figure 4. Broadcast Services

Broadcast (One-Way) Services

Satellite systems are uniquely poised for one-way, broadcast environments -- no terrestrially-based system does it better! And with recent product improvements to its control and management software, broadcast information enjoys similar delivery guarantees as its two-way, acknowledged data counterparts.

As depicted in the diagram below, the "broadcast" message, whether data, audio or video, is produced from a central site (within in-house or other production facilities), and is transmitted to the "master satellite hub". The hub, in turn broadcasts the message to all (for national), selected (for regional) or specific sites. Multiple regional and national messages can be transmitted simultaneously.

Satellite broadcast services co-exist with other satellite communications applications, such as two-way data, audio and video.


Broadcast data controls the visual (and read) client-directed message. Broadcast data arms the remote staff, for all or selected sites, with immediate, time-sensitive information.

National and regional price updates, inventory confirmation, delivery schedules, news bulletins, regional newsletters, training information, news papers/releases, brochures, pictures, loyalty program updates, etc. represent just a few of the items that can be served through today's data broadcast services.

Data broadcast software has been radically enhanced to ensure delivery. Products such as FlashcastTM provide highly secure, reliable and efficient methods of delivering various "media" products to an unlimited number of users. Based on the traditional subscription model, end users (a.k.a. remote VSAT sites) "subscribe" to specific publications and receive new issues immediately upon availability. Once this "subscription" is activated, end users automatically receive "new issues". Because each end user is a uniquely addressable unit, received "publications" can be general, national, regional, or specific to that end user.


Broadcast audio controls the heard message to the client, through background "private radio", audio-only demonstrations, training, and information. Broadcast audio arms the remote staff, for all or selected sites, with immediate, time-sensitive information. Private radio controls the message to the client through regionally-sensitive music, news, commercials, information and so on.


Broadcast video / Business Television controls the visual message to the client, through live and canned demonstrations, training, and information. Broadcast video arms the remote staff, for all or selected sites, with immediate, time-sensitive information.

Business Television also provides the platform for distance learning, allowing corporations an ability to train remote staff or even demonstrate product.  Figure 5. Broadcast Services

Two-Way VOICE & DATA Services

Two-way applications, such as inquiry/response, or client/server applications, are the mission critical, "meat and potatoes" applications that provide the value to any organization's remote site. Sales and inventory totals for internal and kiosked operations, loyalty program rewards, credit / debit authorization, environmental tracking, drug store "prescription" tracking, and beer & wine sales, are just a few of the mission-critical applications deployed in a gas / grocery environment.

Enhancements to satellite systems' LAN support, such as integrated routers, higher bandwidth capabilities, Internet browser-ready components, and more efficient satellite bandwidth schemes all make two-way satellite the appropriate choice for two-way remote data communications. In addition, new enhancements provide for additional video transfer from the remote site to a central site, thus allowing for remote security tracking, where security services, and facilities may not be present or cost competitive.

Two-Way voice services are also available for most VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) and are an excellent choice for emergency voice communications from the remote to central site. Satellite delay still incurs a perceivable difference (as in delay) and is thus, not suitable for primary voice communications. T < G