Stratos tech has BBC beaming from centre of Afghan conflict

Technology has been as much at the battlelines in Afghanistan as the journalists who reported in the foreground of the bomb-scarred skyline.

Stratos, a satellite communication company claims equal credit for bringing the latest news to homes around the world in the form of television and radio broadcasts on the BBC. It was satellite technology that tided over most journalists in communicating their reports from one of the harshest, barren environments known. BBC Radio Technical Coordinator Keith Wood says using the Inmarsat GAN terminal to access Stratos' global network of earth stations has played an essential part in enabling the BBC to report the news as it happens. "As the equipment is fully portable it has allowed us to get in and follow the story close to the front line action in sound and vision at reasonable cost."

Reporting teams based in various locations like Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan used Stratos' Satelan service in a variety of ways, allowing them to send back reports in various forms, says an official release. Live video reports were sent daily over the Stratos Satelan service, which provides users with access to Stratos' wholly owned global satellite network via a portable GAN terminal and Inmarsat's network of satellites. This enabled viewers to witness reporters following the Northern Alliance in its quest to remove the Taliban government.

The method used for sending back the live video reports is to connect a GAN(x) terminal, which provides the user with a 64kb/s ISDN channel, to a customized version of a video phone designed specifically for use on the road and with the GAN terminal, claims Stratos. Reporters have also used a method called Store & Forward, by connecting the terminal to either a Toko or Voyager-lite, allowing the user to record their report, compress it and then forward it on to the news room. Radio reports were filed over the Satelan service, and live two-way radio interviews by connecting an ISDN mixer to the terminal.

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