The information on this page was published in the past, thus it may be different from the current status.
To check the date of issuance, please refer to the following URL for the list of interviews, or for the list of special articles.

Breaking the Digital Divide

Q. How will WINDS benefit our daily life?

Testing RF radiation of the WINDS system

Although the Internet is very popular in urban areas, connectivity is not yet sufficient in many mountainous regions, on remote islands, or in Asian countries where the communications infrastructure is not well developed. WINDS can make advanced high-speed communications available even in such areas. Today, the reach of the Internet is spreading rapidly, and its potential is expanding dramatically, changing the way we live our lives. In the future, certain administrative procedures, education, and even certain aspects of medical care will happen over the Internet. I think that high-speed Internet services will establish new infrastructure for our daily lives, creating an environment that even the elderly, who are not accustomed to using computers, will find convenient and reliable.
WINDS technology will also contribute to disaster management. In Asian countries, where natural disasters happen frequently, it is important to acquire disaster information promptly, in order to provide the best response. With WINDS, we'll be able to link up quickly with small, portable ground stations in the disaster region, and even send high-definition images right away to disaster management headquarters and news organizations. We'd like to see WINDS technology provide a bridge between disaster zones, disaster management headquarters and the public, even if conventional communication networks are disrupted.

Q. What is the WINDS operation schedule after launch?

After the satellite is launched by H-IIA rocket in the winter of the fiscal year 2007, we'll perform its initial check of the satellite and network. Then, JAXA and NICT will conduct basic experiments to verify and demonstrate the function and performance of communication networks between the satellite and the ground. Also, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has chosen 53 experiments to be carried out with WINDS, from applications submitted by domestic and overseas research institutions, universities and the private sector. These include experiments related to communications technology, disaster management and education. For instance, we're going to conduct experiments in Internet distance education, also known as “e-learning,” between universities in Japan and other Asian countries. Distance education has traditionally consisted of one-way communication from teacher to students, or one-to-one interaction. However, the Asynchronous Transfer Mode switch, which I described previously, will facilitate more interactive communication among students and teacher. For instance, students in Japan and Thailand will be able to talk directly to each other via WINDS, allowing everyone in the class to get involved. We'd like to explore the entire potential of WINDS as we ensure the success of all these experiments.

Q. Could you tell us about international cooperation around WINDS?

Many Asian countries are participating in the experiments selected by the ministry. Among them, experiments in satellite disaster management are a major focus. The Sentinel Asia project, which aims to share disaster-related information on the Internet, is primarily led by JAXA for disaster management in the Asia-Pacific region. Satellite images taken by the Advanced Land Observing Satellite, ALOS, have already been used; in the next step, communications satellites will play an important role in data distribution. We are currently looking for ways to maximize the utility of WINDS in disaster management. Eventually, I strongly hope to make great contributions to the international community with the satellite.

Q. What is your greatest expectation for WINDS?

As Internet technology has advanced, online content has rapidly evolved from text only to audio and video, encouraging people to share various types of information more and more. Life with the Internet is becoming the norm. Having said that, people in remote areas do not have sufficient access to the Internet infrastructure that's taken for granted in urban areas. If society is established around the Internet, certain regions will benefit, while others could be left behind. Social-network systems should not exclude whole groups of people, and there should be no digital divide based on geography. WINDS technology, which allows high-speed communications to be accessed from anywhere, could solve this problem. I hope that WINDS will become a means to making the world a better place.
Also, in the case of a disaster, communication technology plays a critical role in obtaining accurate data and delivering information to people in the afflicted area. People feel much more secure when they know that communication networks won't be interrupted. It is comforting to know that, no matter what, information can be delivered to you, and your information can reach the other end. I hope that WINDS technology will contribute to building a society with such security.

1   2   3