RealTime IT News

AOL, Hughes to Test Satellite Service

America Online Inc. added another facet to its AOL Anywhere strategy Friday when it announced plans to beta test a high-speed satellite Internet service in conjunction with Hughes Electronics Corp.

"AOL Plus is part a larger AOL Anywhere strategy to enable members to access our services no matter where they are or how they connect," said AOL spokesman Marta Grutka.

As part of that initiative, AOL and Hughes will test a high-speed satellite Internet service in key cities, including New York and San Francisco, beginning this month. Hughes owns DirecTV, which provides satellite television and Internet services.

The service, called "AOLPlus Powered by DirecPC," is expected to come to market by the third quarter of this year. The DirecPC system blends satellite and telephone-wire technologies. America Online customers will have to purchase a Hughes satellite dish to use the service.

The system will utilize AOL Plus, which is reported to deliver information to personal computers 14 times faster than a standard telephone-line modem.

"Any AOL 5.0 user who accesses us through a high-speed service automatically gets AOL Plus," Grutka said. "This is an enhanced multimedia version of our service tailored for high-speed access."

The relationship with Hughes aims to supplement the void between DSL and access to Time Warner's Roadrunner cable service. Over the last year, AOL has signed deals with Bell Atlantic, SBC Communications to offer AOL-branded DSL service.