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EarthLink Dives Into High-Speed Satellite Services

Continuing to push into the broadband market, EarthLink Tuesday said it will roll out two-way high speed satellite service nationwide by the end of May.

The service will be provisioned by DirecPC, and is called EarthLink Satellite Powered by DirecPC. The company said the service will provide broadband coverage to most of the continental U.S.

The service is already available in the Northeast and Northwest for $69.95 per month. EarthLink said it can provide downstream speeds of up to 400 Kbps and upstream speeds of up to 128 Kbps.

"The ability to offer broadband service to virtually the entire country has been our ultimate target," said Tom Andrus, vice president of emerging technologies at EarthLink. "By adding satellite to our product lineup, we will reach areas not served by cable and DSL. From all the positive feedback we've received, we know there is a big market for broadband among Internet users whose only option up to now was dial-up."

The satellite service includes 20 hours of free dial-up roaming at more than 7,500 local phone numbers, six e-mail addresses, 10 MB of personal Web space and 24-hour customer support. However, setting up the service is a little more expensive than the DSL or cable options. There is a one-time charge of $649 for the equipment and a $250 charge for professional installation. There is also an option to go with a DirecDuo dish -- enabling both Internet access and DirecTV services -- which adds $30 to the equipment charge and $75 to installation costs.

The launch of EarthLink Satellite rounds out the company's broadband portfolio. It already has one of the largest DSL coverage areas in the industry and it has secured definitive agreements with AOL Time Warner and Charter to use those companies' cable lines. It has also entered into technical trial agreements with Comcast, AT&T and Cox Communications. In the wireless arena, it offers Ricochet-based mobile broadband services.

"In addition to being able to provide faster connections to those who can't get DSL or cable, we will be better able to serve our subscribers by matching their needs with the appropriate technology by offering the customer a full selection of broadband options," Andrus said.



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