Motorola, Astrolink link up on satellite services

Motorola Inc. plans to provide receiver dishes and other ground equipment for customers of satellite broadband start-up Astrolink International LLC, anticipating the launch of Astrolink's satellite services in 2003, the companies announced Tuesday in a joint statement.

Motorola's Broadband Communications Sector will supply business customer-premises terminals for the transmission and reception of broadband data signals by Astrolink's global satellite telecommunication system. Astrolink's target customers are multinational corporation and businesses with operations in remote areas, like mining or oil production.

"We're making the customer premises terminal ... the receiver and the transmitter," along with other components, said Marty Stein, senior marketing director for Motorola's satellite and broadcast group. Motorola will use outside equipment manufacturers for some of the components, like the satellite dishes, he said.

Astrolink has no services currently available -- the company hasn't launched its satellites yet. Astrolink was formed as a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Corp., TRW Inc. and Telespazio -- an Italian satellite company owned by Telecom Italia SpA. AT&T Corp.'s subsidiary Liberty Media Corp. is also an investor.

Astrolink plans to launch a constellation of four Ka-band geostationary satellites in the first quarter of 2003 at an estimated cost of US$3.6 billion, and launch its services in the second quarter, according to a company spokeswoman. Ka-band transmissions use the high-frequency part of the radio spectrum, allowing very high-speed communications in large volumes of data. The company intends to provide transmission speeds of up to 20M bps (bits per second) and reception speeds of 220M bps.

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