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Milipitas, California based Adaptec Inc has signed an agreement with Paris based European satellite organization Eutelsat, as part of a bid to speed up the delivery of satellite based broadband multimedia services to PC’s and PC/TV devices in Europe. Adaptec is to supply the operator with satellite receiver cards which will connect to the PCI slot of any PC and network computer allowing users to receive satellite content such as high-resolution digital video, broadcast web sites and business data services. Eutelsat plans to unveil preliminary services using the card together witha big satellite provider in the UK by the end of this year. We’re going to launch a service to see how people will react, said Antonio Arcidiacono head of the multimedia section at Eutelsat. He reckons that the commercial world will be first to cotton on to the technology during 1998 but says that data satellite broadcasting is also aimed at consumers. According to Arcidiacono while there will be 1,000 digital TV channels for entertainment in the next couple of years there will be at least another 1,000 channels on offer from satellite providers for what he calls ‘infotainment.’ Adaptec believes digital broadcasting via satellite can offer enormous savings over other forms of data delivery. Officials at the company claim that to send a CD-ROM worth of information to 10,000 people over broadband cable would take 20 minutes and cost $1,700 but to reach the same 10,000 users by satellite would take only 3 minutes and cost $25. The catch at the moment for satellite is that the back channel for any interactivity has to be done over regular phone lines although Adaptec does insist that the cards will integrate with two way satellite services when they arrive on the scene. Adaptec’s satellite receiver cards are no different to those already being supplied by consumer electronics giants like Philips and satellite equipment manufacturers like Hughes for use in set top boxes. However Lana Vaysburd general manager for Adaptec’s Satellite networking group reckons Adaptec’s background in the computer industry allows it to bring PC expertise and connectivity to the fore that is absent from these other devices. Set top box manufacturers aren’t as good at addressing the intricacies of the PC market, she said.

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