The US Broadcast Networks
In the for-profit sector, SSPI honors the four US terrestrial broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX – for successful completion of a nationwide conversion from analog to digital over-the-air broadcasting. In addition to meeting a Federal Communications Commission mandate, the US broadcast networks also took the digital conversion as an opportunity to re-invent their satellite-based program distribution networks. For many years, TV networks distributed both a standard-definition (SDTV) and high-definition (HDTV) version of their signal to their broadcast affiliates. For most, the 2009 conversion brought an end to this dual content origination and distribution process. While all four networks completed their conversion by the June 12 deadline, CBS also cut over nearly 200 affiliate stations to an all HD distribution platform using 8PSK and DVB-S2 modulation that provided more efficient use of satellite bandwidth to accommodate the more demanding HD program format. ABC migrated to a completely new compression, multiplexing, modulation, and satellite delivery system in the same month. The analog spectrum freed up by the conversion was returned to the FCC in exchange for new spectrum specifically for ATSC digital broadcasting.
Télécom sans Frontiéres
In the non-profit sector, SSPI honors Télécom sans Frontiéres, or Telecommunications Without Borders, a relief organization in southern France founded by Monique Lanne-Petit and Jean-Francois Cazenave. Funded by the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation as well as corporate partners including AT&T and Inmarsat, the group has more than a decade of experience in setting up emergency communications facilities in war or disaster zones. Until TSF was founded, disaster relief focused solely on supplying food, water and medicine to help victims of disaster and war. But what Lanne-Petit and Cazenave found during wars in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf, as well as during the Asian tsunami in 2004, was that displaced people asked first to make a telephone call. To address the need for communications services, TSF bought its first satellite phone and the organization was born. Today, when earthquake, war or pandemic strikes, the TSF team springs into action. Within 24 hours, their personnel are offering satellite phone service as well as Internet connections to relief workers and governments in the heart of any disaster. Through satellite uplinks, they provide free three-minute calls for people desperate to reach family to let them know they have survived. TSF also advises governments on the role of communications in disaster preparedness, and establishes satellite-based telecom centers in developing nations to improve people’s lives.
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