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Global360 - Joining People on a Global Scale
Interactive TV on a High-Speed Network covers int'l. conferences around the world

Global360 is an experiment in the European Union's ACTS programme. From June 16-18, the NICE Project is testing a system of interactive TV carried on a high-speed network. Global360 is part of the demonstrations related with the European Commission's (DGXIII) and the European Parliament's (Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy) Conference 21st Century - The Communications Age (see also the article in the same issue).

Global360 will link live to:

The test is on a large scale, with sites all across Europe and others in Canada and Russia. At most sites the audience can participate in the experiment by joining in discussions and asking questions during certain programmes. This is not just a "phone-in" - this is fully interactive TV, with pictures and sound coming from the audience wherever they are. In addition to the sites in Brussels, Calgary, Madeira, and Moscow, Global360 will interconnect additional sites in: Basle, Linz, Ljubljana, Madrid, Novosibirsk, Sophia Antipolis, Stockholm and Turin.

TV programmes are packaged into a single "Global360 Channel". All the TV programmes in Global360 (see schedule below) are linked by one common theme: the development and use of new telecommunications technologies.

The programmes come in a variety of formats: presentations, panel discussions, news reports and interviews. Some are broadcasts from the conferences in Calgary, Madeira and Moscow, where technologists and policy makers are discussing the future of telecommunications. Others are panel discussions and tutorials with experts speaking from different cities.

Visitors to Global360 are warmly welcomed to join in, ask questions, make comments and tell us what you think of it. Everyone can be a broadcaster!

There are three kinds of places where one can visit Global360

  1. at the conferences in Madeira, Calgary and Moscow there are some sessions shared with Global360 - please see the schedules published by the organisers of these conferences;
  2. interactive sites are operated by partners in the NICE project and by other collaborators such as the DGXIII EU Host site in the European Parliament;
  3. some passive watchpoints (P) are operated by other NICE partners. Any site which has a connection to the public MBONE can also serve as a watchpoint.

Outline programme schedule

A more detailed Programme is available on request
G denotes general interest
S
denotes specialist technical interest

Monday 16 June

morning

afternoon

Tuesday 17 June

morning

afternoon

Wednesday 18 June

morning

afternoon

Global360 will be broadcasting from approximately 08:45 to 18:30 hours Central European Summer Time, each day (+1 for Brussels).

For sites in other time zones please make the following adjustments:

How it works

Global360 has a central studio at laboratories of KPN, the Dutch telecoms operator. This studio is connected to all the participating sites through a high-speed network. The ordinary Internet today is not fast enough to deliver TV to ordinary users, but Global360 is using a new technology called "ATM". This can deliver information to a user more than a thousand times faster than ordinary Internet - and it can also collect information from a user at the same speed. This makes it possible to have full two-way TV between all the participating sites.

Within Western Europe, Global360 uses an experimental ATM network called JAMES, provided by a consortium of European telecommunications carriers.

To reach sites in Canada it uses ATM over a trans-Atlantic cable operated by Deutsche Telekom and Teleglobe. Connections to Central and Eastern Europe and to Russia are by ATM over satellite links provided by EUTELSAT.

At each site there is a powerful workstation connected to the ATM link.

This is coupled up to local cameras, video projectors, sound system, etc. according to the size of the auditorium. On the workstation there is a special software package called ISABEL. This is the brain of the whole system: it controls who is broadcasting and how the pictures and sound from all the sites are combined into a single screen and sound channel for everyone to receive.

In addition to ISABEL, Global360 is also experimenting with a facility known as MBONE. This already exists in some corners of the public Internet where there are sufficiently fast connections. It provides two-way "slow video" and sound between participants who connect to a programme. In 1997 Global360 will make a one-way broadcast of its programmes on to the MBONE - in the future full two-way participation will be offered.

Why Global360?

The task of NICE is to integrate, test and demonstrate teleconferencing and telemeeting facilities running over broadband ATM networks. During 1996 NICE validated a configuration based on ISABEL for the support of large-scale distributed conferences. This was demonstrated with more than 20 connected sites in the 4th Advanced Broadband Communications Summer School.

The benefits of this technology to organisers of events are:

So far the content of the distributed meetings and conferences has been of a "do-it-yourself" type. This is appropriate inside a company, where the audience is captive. But if the organisers must attract and hold their audiences, they need to make the presentation more professional. The content must be offered in an easy to understand form, audiences must be allowed to pick and choose what interests them and the programmes must be delivered with the TV broadcast quality which people are used to.

In Global360 NICE is exploring how TV techniques and management can be combined with an ISABEL system so as to achieve the audiovisual quality of a professional "published" programme.

NICE is

This is an experiment. It is not about simply imitating TV but rather about exploring a new medium, merging TV techniques with teleconferencing. NICE want to find out what can be done and what the consequences are for both organisation and technology.

By (email removed) , Techno-Z FH F&E, 27.05.1997

DCSIMG