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IntelSat Partners With Others to Test Internet Multicasting

Global communications satellite operator IntelSat is partnering with Teleglobe, Telecom Egypt, Telkom South Africa, Cyprus Telecommunications Authority and Embratel of Brazil to test its Multicast Internet Caching and Replication System.

Scheduled to start in November, the partners will test the technical viability of multicasting the most popular Internet content from an Internet "warehouse" to "kiosk" sites via satellite.

IntelSat said the first tests are pre-commercial, and are aimed at exploring the technical aspects of the operation. In one of the first tests, Teleglobe will operate an Internet warehouse at one of its network service facilities in Canada. From there it will multicast through the IntelSat earth stations to kiosk sites in Egypt, South Africa, Cyprus and Brazil. At the receiving end, the content will flow into a local cache on a "push" or "pull" basis.

"This system, which we are demonstrating with our signatory partners, exploits the advantages that geostationary satellites have over other transmission media for international Internet services," said Conny Kullman, IntelSat's vice president of operations & engineering.

"Point-to-multipoint capabilities and the ease of implementing asymmetrical links are combined in this unique service platform. We expect this service to provide many advantages including faster access time to Internet sites for end-users, reduced international link costs for ISPs and reduced traffic load on original Internet sites."

A&T Systems, of Silver Spring, Maryland, is developing the multicast-to-cache service platform for IntelSat. The prototype contains and manages three types of Internet content: popular, pre-selected Web sites; data that content providers wish to "push" to the cache; and content requested (or "pulled") by users or kiosk operators.

The full commercial version of the platform will have many additional features, including the ability to deliver real-time-on-demand music, and both real-time and "semi-real-time" content delivery of financial information.

Preliminary results from the test will be available at the Internet Multicast Summit, 10-11 December in Washington, D.C., hosted by IntelSat. Visitors will also see a live demonstration of the multicast platform.