Iran and Space Communications
Increasing and promising attention has been given to the application of space technologies in recent decades in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The country entered the space applications era in 1969 through establishing Asad Abad Ground Station, with the installation of a standard A antenna with a 30-metre diameter to connect to the Pacific International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat) system for international communications.
The telecommunication network in the Islamic Republic of Iran is essentially based on a microwave backbone with reasonable coverage in the well-populated provinces. In general, there are three communications networks in Iran with more than 1,000 ground stations providing voice and data services to the users. The number of fixed communication lines will grow from 10,000,000 in 2000 to 12,000,000 in 2003. This means that one in five of the Iranian population will own a phone line thanks to the availability of space communication technology in the Islamic Republic of Iran. There are about 300,000 cellular mobile phone subscribers with a capacity of 12,000 ports in the data network and more than 75,000 public payphones throughout the country. International communications is mainly handled by the Intelsat and Inmarsat satellite networks through more than 3,500 channels and three international gateway Earth stations.
The national Domsat system was put into effect in 1990 by implementing phase 1, which consisted of 7 hubs and 61 terminals configured in 7 star sub-networks. The technology employed therein was single channel per carrier quaternary phase shift keying frequency division multiple access through transponders of the Ku-band east spot of the Intelsat 63º E satellite. The Earth segment was later augmented by the installation of two star networks comprising two hubs and 900 very-small aperture terminals (VSAT) accessing the same satellite using the time division multiple access (TDMA) technique. In addition, a separate nationwide network consisting of two hubs and some 1,700 VSATs owned and operated by the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran is now in service.
Recently, a tender has been issued by the Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) for the acquisition of 9 gateway hubs and 300 demand assigned multiple access Earth stations using the TDMA access technique, all in the 14/11 GHz band.
This expansion is intended to be used to improve rural and remote area communications and also to satisfy the need for applications such as data transfer, multi-point-to-point, point-to-point, short-term and emergency communication services and Internet links. It is believed that satellite communication is a suitable solution for rural locations that are far from terrestrial telecommunication links or are facing barriers or technical problems. In this regard, TCI is planning to provide communication services for 2,000 rural locations and to 500 private users with satellite communications systems in the near future.
In addition, TCI is considering plans to provide telemedicine and tele-education services for locations that are within easy reach of central hospitals and universities.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has one Inmarsat land Earth station near Tehran that provides services to a fleet of ships and land portable terminals of Standards A and C. In addition, TCI has signed an agreement with Intermediate Circular Orbit (ICO) Global Communications, an offspring of Inmarsat, to invest and provide mobile satellite services in the region. Furthermore, studies are ongoing to investigate the possibilities of joining various large low-Earth orbit (LEO) systems such as Globalstar and the future global mobile personal communications by satellite (GMPCS) networks.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Organization (IRIB) has implemented many expansion projects making effective use of three 72-MHz Ku-band transponders on the 63º E Intelsat satellite. Four national television channels now broadcast nationwide, making use of 2,600 television receive-only terminals, thus rendering almost complete national television coverage.
IRIB has also recently launched a Ku-band television broadcast over Europe and the Middle East via the European Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Eutelsat) satellite. In addition, IRIB owns two C-band Earth stations relaying news items to Asiavision and also internationally through Intelsat. Two transportable Earth stations are also available for satellite news gathering transmission from any point around the country and neighboring countries.
IRIB owns 31 VSAT Earth stations for its private communication purposes. IRIB is also now conducting extensive studies on the transformation from analogue sound and television to digital transmission via satellite.
IRIB has already been using different facilities in order to broadcast and receive internal and external programmes. These activities include the use of Intelsat, Eutelsat HOTBIRD-3 and TELESTAR-5 through the utilization of four fixed stations and three portable satellite news gathering stations.
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