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SkyBridge Ltd, the multimedia satellite partnership between Alcatel Alsthom SA and Loral Space and Communications Ltd, has found four new investors. They are Sharp Corp, Canadian satellite company Spar Aerospace Ltd, French aerospace company Aerospatiale SA, and Belgian investment group Societe Regionale d’Investissements de Walloni. They join Toshiba Corp and Mitsubishi Electric Corp, which both became SkyBridge partners last month (CI No 3,265). SkyBridge reckons that it has now completed its first round of investment, bar another possible partner. The partners are all building various components of the SkyBridge 64 Low Earth Orbit satellite network, which includes ground stations, data networks, and the satellites and components – although just who is going to build what is currently still under negotiations. Alcatel says it will definitely be responsible for most of the data network equipment and systems integration, and will help Spar Aerospatiale and Loral to build the satellites. The rest of the partners will be fighting it out over the ground equipment. The Skybridge service, due to start operating in 2001, is intended for use by telecommunications companies and internet service providers, who are interested in the high speed national and international communications bandwidth. Skybridge is due to open a second round of funding from the telecoms and service provider sector, likely to make up the majority of the capital investment, in return for slices of bandwidth on the system. Skybridge is currently applying for the Ku-band radio frequencies it will use from the international frequency allocation body World Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva, and the application is due for preliminary approval within the next week. If approved, the application would be due for ratification at the next WRC meeting in 1999.

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