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FCC AWARDS VOLUNTEERS IN TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PIONEER'S PREFERENCE STATUS

 FCC AWARDS VOLUNTEERS IN TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
 PIONEER'S PREFERENCE STATUS
 ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Federal Communications Commission announced yesterday its selection of Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA) as the first recipient of its Pioneer's Preference Award in connection with the VITASAT low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications program. Noting that VITA was the first to experiment with the operation of a civilian LEO communications system, the commission found VITA's proposal to enable communications with and among otherwise unserved people throughout the world to constitute a new and innovative use of the spectrum.
 Established in 1991, The Pioneer's Preference Award affords innovators a preference in FCC licensing proceedings to ensure that pioneers will be rewarded for the development of new radio communications technologies.
 The commission said that grant of a licensing preference for the VITASAT system is contingent on the successful completion of FCC proceedings to allocate spectrum for the operation of VITASAT and other proposed LEO satellite systems, at which time the FCC will license the VITASAT system in an expeditious way, and on a "non-competitive" basis.
 VITA President Henry R. Norman said that the VITASAT system is intended to improve the environment, health, education and disaster prevention/mitigation sectors of developing countries. "The marvel of satellite communication will be made available to the poor in the developing countries who have been excluded from the benefits of modern technology," he said.
 Established in 1959, VITA is a private non-profit organization dedicated to providing technical information and applying technical solutions to the problems of people in developing countries. Since the early 1980s, VITA has been conducting an extensive program of LEO communications technology research and development, including in-orbit experimentation.
 FCC Chairman Alfred Sikes described the award as a communications "Baldrige" award (named for the former secretary of commerce), and stated that VITA established a "high hurdle" for future Pioneer's Preference applications.
 The proposed VITASAT system will consist of two LEO satellites in a sun-synchronous polar orbit, facilitating "store and forward" and near-realtime communications between as many as a thousand ground stations, operated by humanitarian organizations and other users in developing countries.
 Norman welcomed the commission's decision, saying, "We are very pleased and proud to be honored in this way. Many VITA volunteers and staff worked long and hard to bring VITA to this point. All are dedicated to expanding the exchange of knowledge between scientists, engineers, farmers, business persons and others to improve the quality of life in developing countries."
 VITA is a private non-profit organization established in 1959 to provide technical information and technical solutions to the problems of people in developing countries.
 -0- 1/17/92
 /CONTACT: Joseph F. Sedlak or Gary Garriott of Volunteers in Technical Assistance, 703-276-1800/ CO: Federal Communications Commission; Volunteers in Technical
 Assistance ST: Virginia IN: TLS SU:


TW-SB -- DC007 -- 0915 01/17/92 10:28 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 17, 1992
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