The SkyBridge Ltd partnership between Alcatel Alsthom SA and Loral Space & Communications Ltd has brought in two major Japanese partner in a deal that should strengthen its bid for global radio frequencies, due to be allocated shortly by an International Telecommunications Union meeting in Geneva. Toshiba Corp has agreed to make a very significant commitment to the $3.5bn satellite project, which aims to offer broadband access to high-speed interactive services in competition to Motorola Inc’s satellite network with Teledesic Inc (CI No 3,185) among others. In addition Mitsubishi Electric Corp says it will take just less than 10% of Skybridge. The ITU meeting will be attended by some 164 member countries, and Alcatel said having a strong South East Asian partner may help win the vote of the Asia Pacific countries when it comes to allocation of radio frequencies. However, spokesman Nicolas Brun said the Toshiba deal was not about lobbying for votes. He said Toshiba will take an interest in every aspect of the development of the system, although precise details remain confidential. Skybridge earlier this year applied to the US government to deploy 64 satellites (CI No 3,185), and it intends to provide high capacity internet access services, as well as teleworking, distance learning and global mobile communications. Services are due to begin in 2001.
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