1 September 2003

Workshop on Contribution of Satellite Communications Technology to Bridge the Digital Divide

VIENNA,1 September (UN Information Service) -- A five-day Workshop on the Contribution of Satellite Communications Technology to Bridge the Digital Divide will be held in Bangkok from 1 to 5 September. The workshop is organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, in co-operation with the Government of Thailand. The workshop, which is intended for the benefit of the developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region, will be hosted and co-sponsored by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency of Thailand.

One of the most important challenges to making effective use of information and communication technologies in developing countries is a limited technological infrastructure. Fortunately, developments in satellite communications technology may alter parts of this picture in the short-term, as rapid technological innovations are driving the availability of low-cost one-way and two-way satellite services.

The workshop will assist developing countries in understanding how to use satellite-based communications networks for enhancing access to cost-effective communications, education, healthcare and other socio-economic services and applications. The aim of the workshop is two-fold: firstly to elaborate a possible contribution to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) from the satellite communications sector's viewpoint, and secondly to review the status and future of various aspects of satellite communications technology. These aspects include: (i) the satellite market in the Asia-Pacific region, (ii) new satellite service opportunities for applications such as e-health and e-learning, (iii) satellite communications for disaster relief, iv) remote and rural multimedia/Internet services (v) local user access, (vi) marketing satellite services solutions, (vii) development of regional and international co-operation, and viii) broadcast and two-way Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) technology progress. VSATs are fixed satellite terminals that provide interactive or receive-only communications. They are used for corporate networks, rural telecommunications, distance learning, telemedicine, disaster recovery, and ship communications. VSATs are becoming increasingly popular, because they are flexible and can be installed quickly and cost effectively.

Around 60 participants, including decision-makers and programme managers from governmental institutions and private industry from the following countries and organizations, are expected to attend the Workshop: Austria, Cambodia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Tajikistan, Thailand, United States, Viet Nam, International Telecommunication Union, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Asia-Pacific Telecommunity, the European Space Agency, International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, Asia Pacific Satellite Communications Council, Global VSAT Forum, INMARSAT and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

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The United Nations Programme on Space Applications is implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and works to improve the use of space science and technology for the economic and social development of all nations, in particular developing countries. Under the Programme, the Office conducts training courses, workshops, seminars and other activities on applications and capacity building in subjects such as remote sensing, communications, satellite meteorology, search and rescue, basic space science, satellite navigation and space law.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at http://www.oosa.unvienna.org