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Arrowhead Looks to Broadband, Satellite for Global Internet

If Arrowhead Space and Telecommunications has its way, broadband and satellite technology will be the key that unlocks the expansion of Internet services to every corner of the globe.

"While there are approximately 51 phone lines per 100 habitants in the world's developed countries, that ratio is less than 2 per 100 in Africa, 5 per 100 in Asia, and 30 per 100 in South America. Clearly there are billions of people without basic phone service," explains Arrowhead's president and chief executive officer, Mary Ann Elliott. "For them, the Internet is useless."

Talking with internet.com in preparation for the Wireless Forum, to be held in Milan next month, Elliott pointed out that broadband communications and international alliances may be the answer to reaching the global market.

Numerous satellite communications companies are proposing to use the radio-frequency spectrum to meet the demand for broadband communications to support Internet access, phone service, videoconferencing, and other services.

Satellites are seen as particularly advantageous in building communications infrastructure, because they offer ubiquitous communications without the need to install wire or cable to connect each and every home, school, or business.

"Ka-band has been used for broadband applications in a number of countries. In Italy, Italsat uses Ka-band for voice, data, and video communications. In Japan the CS-2 satellite and NStar A and B carried Ka-band services," said Elliott.

"Alenia Spazio has proposed the EuroSkyWay constellation of geostationary satellites to provide commercial multimedia applications. Other European multimedia projects include Sativod and WEST."

The technical challenges for a global, satellite-supported Internet alone are significant. New and alternative loud capacity will have to be developed, a ground infrastructure must be established, including regional gateways and user terminals.

Spectrum issues concern signal loss due to high rain attenuation and to rain blocking, to which Ku-, Ka- and Q/V-band frequencies are subject. The planning use of the same frequencies by both geo stationary and LEO systems also create sharing issues to be resolved.

It are these, and other issues, that Arrowhead seeks to face, in cooperation with European and global partners, in their effort to broaden the use of Internet through satellite technology.

One of the fastest growing space and telecommunications companies in the United States, Arrowhead has rapidly moved forward in the areas of media technology, information assurance and commercial satellite communications; primarily on government and military contracts.

Now, with both U.S. and European deregulation of satellite usage, the company is looking towards global Internet.

"Another challenge is the need to obtain regulatory approval for each system, in each country of operation," explained Elliott, who was named one of Defense Daily's Top 40 Most Influential People in Defense, Aerospace, and National Security. "Marketing concerns include the need to develop quality product at an attractive price when compared to traditional telecommunications services."