RealTime IT News

New High-Speed Access Options Emerging

The race to be the first two-way satellite broadband access provider is heating up now that iSKY has received an additional $137 million in equity funding.

Monday's cash infusion puts iSKY halfway to its $750 million funding goal needed to launch Internet satellite-based services. The company also plans to use the fund to strengthen its corporate infrastructure, by hiring four new vice presidents and moving its operations to a larger headquarters in Denver.

Hughes Network Systems last week announced plans to provide two-way satellite access in 2001 through its partnership with Juno Online Services Inc. .

Thomas Moore, iSKY president and chief executive officer, said the company is on track to provide broadband access in 2001.

"We are now ahead of iSKY's financing goals," Moore said. "We are well on our way to deploying the first Ka band satellite that can provide affordable broadband Internet access to every person in the United Stats, Canada and Latin America. We forecast that at least 25 to 30 million homes in the U.S. will not have access to other broadband solutions when we launch next year."

iSKY plans to launch its two-way satellite service to the United States late next year, giving customers standard downloading speeds up to 1.5 megabits per second.

Paul Froelich, iSKY vice president of finance, said the investment is small when you consider the number of people who will need broadband services in the future.

"Our funding needs are relatively low compared to other satellite, cable and digital subscriber line infrastructure players, when you consider we will be able to reach virtually every household in North America with a broadband solution with this initial phase alone," Froelich said.

Ka-band satellite technology is easier to market than basic satellite service, which charges a standard lease for bandwidth used. Using the Ka spectrum and its switching capabilities, companies can charge for individual use, acting like a telephone switchboard for long-distance calls and diminish price prohibitions of the high-speed service.

Roger Stanyard, in his Ka-Band Report, said Ka-band technology could be a viable market alternative to existing broadband technology.

"Hitherto, the satellite communications industry has been wary of using Ka-band because it is subject to substantial interference from rain," Stanyard said.

"That problem has now largely been circumvented. Much more significantly, NASA launched an advanced Ka-band satellite in 1993 that uses on-board processing and switching, pencil spot beams and the Ka-band - the three key technologies for the new commercial Ka-band satellites."