RealTime IT News

Juno Taps Into Satellite Services

Juno Online Services Inc., Wednesday partnered with Hughes Network Systems to provide satellite-based Internet services for its customers by year's end.

The service, dubbed Juno Express Powered by DirecPC, is the fourth leg in Juno's broadband family of services, originally launched in March.

Juno satellite express customers will be able to attain downstream speeds of up to 400 kilobits per second through the connection, with upstream rates dependent on the users modem and telephone line. The two companies plan to support two-way satellite functionality in 2001.

Paul Gaske, Hughes consumer division executive vice president and general manager, said the upcoming satellite program would provide a competitive alternative to other broadband services.

"Pound for pound, the service will be priced very competitively with other high-speed options," Gaske said. "Even when our two-way satellite service is deployed, we plan on keeping our costs competitive with the industry."

Gary Baker, Juno vice president of public relations, said the partnership completes the groundwork for its nationwide broadband network incorporating cable, digital subscriber line, satellite and fixed wireless services, under its Juno Express line-up.

"There isn't a very large amount of people taking advantage of broadband access right now, but that's going to change within the next couple of years," Baker said. "Right now, we're laying a foundation for our customers to take advantage of in the near future."

Pricing is not set for the satellite service, but Baker said the prices will be comparable to other broadband services. Hughes DirecPC customers currently pay $50 a month for family service plans.

Customers will also need to purchase a small satellite dish and a Universal Serial Bus connected modem. Pricing has not been announced for the residential products, but officials plan to establish dish prices at market value, currently around $149.

Baker said DSL is the only current broadband service customers can pick-up from Juno through a deal with Covad Communications Corp. The firm also partnered with AT&T Corp. to provide nationwide cable services and Metricom Inc. to eventually provided fixed wireless high-speed services.

Toby Bryce, Juno senior vice president for corporate development, said his company would be able to provide Internet access anywhere, including rural and sparsely-populated regions, around the U.S.

"We're thrilled to be working with Hughes to offer our customers this revolutionary new form of Internet access," Bryce said. "The addition of Hughes' DirecPC as a broadband platform will expand our coverage throughout the continental U.S."

"This strategic relationship will make Juno one of the first Internet access providers to offer a truly nationwide broadband service, moving us closer to our goal of offering the full range of Internet access options to our millions of subscribers, regardless of where they live," Bryce added.

Hughes also partnered with America Online Inc. to provide satellite service to its customers through its AOL Plus and AOL TV services. Last year, America Online took a $1.5 billion stake in the company to move into the satellite service arena.