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By | September 20, 2000

      Australia’s CSIRO has designed a new multibeam antenna which, it claims, unlike the existing antenna systems where one dish receives the signal from a single satellite, this antenna can receive signals from more than 10 satellites at one time. With this new product it is “now targeting the lucrative European pay-TV sector”.

      Luxembourg-based SES Societe Europeenne des Satellites (SES) will be using the dish and Germany’s TST Kommunikations-technik GmbH (TST) has also commissioned CSIRO to supply four 4.2m diameter multibeam antennae designed specially for the European pay-TV market.

      The first two antennas will be delivered to SES, the operator of Astra, Europe’s leading direct-to-home satellite system, and installed at SES Astra’s satellite control facilities at Chateau de Betzdorf, Luxembourg, said CSIRO. From this location, the multibeam antennas will allow SES Astra to communicate with satellites in geostationary orbit through a 70 degree angular range.

      “We have searched a long time all over the world to find a product like CSIRO’s multibeam antenna that meets the requests of our customers in Europe in this perfect way,” said Hans-Dieter Wilhelm, managing director of TST.

      Dr Trevor Bird, general manager, CSIRO Telecommunications and Industrial Physics, said the multibeam antenna gives significant cost savings without significantly compromising performance. “One antenna now replaces many other systems, meaning fewer antennas have to be used. This reduces the amount of real estate required for satellite teleports and also visual pollution from the proliferation of antenna dishes on the skyline.”

      Sydney Engineering Sales Pty Ltd will fabricate the antennas, while the feed horns will be made by CSIRO. The multibeam antenna consists of two reflectors and an array of feed horns, each viewing one satellite. Unlike the conventional antenna, which has a single focal point where the feed must be positioned, the multibeam antenna has a focal surface on which over 10 feed horns can be placed.

      The reflectors are specially shaped and strategically positioned to maximise the field-of-view of the geostationary arc. The shape and height of the arc in the sky depends on the location of the earth station. About 36 degrees of the arc can be viewed with the CSIRO multibeam antenna. The antenna is lighter and more compact than other multibeam systems currently available, making it ideal for rooftop installation, said CSIRO.

      The company added that initial set-up costs are low and system expansion costs limited, since only one extra feed is required for each additional satellite accessed. Operational flexibility and reliability is a feature of this system.

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