Satellite venture Teledesic Corp, is celebrating this week after being awarded the full chunk of radio spectrum – crucial for its $9bn satellite based high-speed internet access service. The aggressive Kirkland, Washington-based company, founded by cellular pioneer Craig McCaw and Microsoft Corp chief Bill Gates, plans to ring the globe with 288 satellites and provide broadband two way internet access to anyone, anywhere on the planet. But it has been waiting until this week’s International Telecommunications Union’s biannual World Radio Conference in Geneva to be awarded a crucial fifth of the bandwidth it says it needs to make the service work. We had assumed we would ultimately get the access necessary to our business plans and our optimism has been justified, said Russell Daggatt president of Teledesic. Teledesic aims to send data uplinks from users to its satellite constellation and downlinks that beam data to its destination. The plan is to use 500MHz of spectrum in each direction to transport these signals. A previous agreement made at the 1995 WRC, withheld 100MHz of the 500MHz service in each direction primarily to accommodate European concerns at the time. The French in particular were believed to be against the idea of awarding Teledesic the full bandwidth capability. According to Daggat, however all parties have come out of the recent conference smiling. Arch competitor SkyBridge Ltd, the multimedia satellite partnership between France’s Alcatel Alsthom SA and Loral Space and Communications Ltd, has received a provisional indication of the bandwidth they can hope to achieve when the conference reconvenes in 1999. They were successful in beating a path forward for the Skybridge project, so they are happy, said Dagget. The Teledesic service is not a mobile service. Dagget points out that to enjoy the service, users will need a receiving dish attached to their home or office. This is the satellite equivalent of an optic fiber access link. For trunk networks the economics of fibre are hard to beat but the problem is there is very little broadband local access. We can offer broadband access literally anywhere on the planet, he said.
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