Satellite Data Casting Solutions

by Patrick Gannon

Othernet and International Datacasting

Apr 08, 2021

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BusinessCom Networks specializes in broadband satellite services, but from time to time we work on other satellite applications that address a particular niche market. Data casting is one such service. Data casting is a way to provide video, news, weather, traffic, stock market, alerts, and other information to numerous users at the same time, usually by delivering files containing the content. The service is generally not interactive, meaning it is a one-way flow of information from the content provider to the user. While the internet supports datacasting, if one is trying to reach large audiences, satellite broadcasting can be the best solution despite the higher cost of satellite bandwidth, and of course it services rural areas that have no internet.


One company, for whom BusinessCom has recently launched a small broadcast carrier is Othernet, from Chicago in the United States. Othernet’s primary business is developing small, portable receivers that can pick up broadcasts throughout a satellite footprint. This service is being delivered to Europe on Eutelsat 8WB.

Othernet is selling their receivers to hobbyists, amateur radio enthusiasts and some students, as they continue development of the product. They are providing free services to bring in enterprise/government customers who will help pay for the development of customized hardware and a private managed network. Applications of interest to customers include firmware updates to remote devices, content delivery to aid workers, soldiers, etc. in remote areas, and activation of alarm systems for environmental events such as earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, etc. The idea is to put up a managed private network for organizations that need to broadcast low volume data or audio to many remote locations. Thus, an Othernet client would purchase a managed network with enough satellite capacity to manage their content, and some number of the Othernet receivers. BusinessCom’s role is to set up a transmitting antenna at one of our teleport facilities to uplink the broadcast channel for Otherlink. We also provide colocation of the modulator and internet access so it can be updated remotely. Otherlink or their customer, provides the content, and pushes it through the internet to their modulator and we broadcast it from the satellite covering Europe.

Othernet’s value proposition is the cost and size of the receiver. The product is basically a small circuit board tied to a simple Ku band LNB. Product development of the Dreamcatcher circuit board looks like this:

Othernet’s receiver picks up the content from the satellite broadcast and creates a local WiFi hotspot by which computing devices such as smart phones and laptops can access the content. The free channel has no recurring fees or account registration. Othernet’s customers can use the service for emergency management and disaster relief, particularly as terrestrial options tend to go down during disasters. They can provide a secure information channel for first responders, while maintaining an open access platform for the public. While live streaming is unlikely to be supported by low-speed broadcast channels, video files can be downloaded at low speeds, saved, and viewed later. Coursework can also be accessed through Othernet in several formats such as eBooks, videos, and applications, supporting everything from education for children, to coursework for adults learning to code.

Real-time interactive weather maps can be provided to those in very remote locations ensuring bad weather does not come up unexpectedly. File delivery of data as well as video can be downloaded and saved to hard drives. Othernet says its mission is to build a universal information service; a truly pervasive multi-media service that operates in the most remote places and functions even when nothing else does.

International Datacasting Corporation (IDC)

IDC headquartered in Ottawa, Canada has a legacy of innovation starting with radio and data broadcasting, leading the industry in IP-based solutions for broadcast, and supporting new applications such as IPTV, distance learning and digital cinema. IDC provides full-featured solutions with encryption or conditional access, network management, redundancy, and integration services. The company markets a diverse and thorough product line supporting technology for many top broadcasters around the world in radio, television, data, and digital cinema.

For example, instead of streaming live content, applications such as digital cinema, permit a provider to send a file containing the movie, which is stored locally on a hard disk and then played according to a schedule. Similarly, TV shows can be downloaded as files, and then played at pre-scheduled times, as well as VOD or video on demand, to support movie or other feature event rentals.

Like Othernet, IDC can support news and weather broadcasting, financial news, radio broadcast, digital signage, and distance learning, but it supports much higher bandwidth rates, and can therefore support the distribution of larger files. The company offers hardware and software systems, including IP encapsulators, audio products, digital program insertion or targeted ad platforms as well as data and cinema broadcasting product lines.

The company’s software is used around the world for media distribution, weather data, emergency alert data, and similar functions. The software runs in IDC’s products as well as third party OEM systems or standalone software packages. The company backs up the products with systems and service, helping provide complete turn-key systems, leveraging project management, customer support and extensive experience designing such systems.

IDC Digital Cinema Components and Design

If you are an educator looking for an inexpensive and reliable way to multicast educational content to many schools, or a business delivering daily product or pricing changes to all its branch offices, or first responders needing regular updates with regard to resources and support, or have any other potential data casting application, BusinessCom can help integrate a solution using technology solutions from IDC and providing the satellite capacity to distribute your content to those who need it. Please contact us for more information.

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