The idea of using satellites as a central link in moving Internet data around is not new, but so far no one has targeted the growing market for intranets.
That's set to change with the arrival of a service called Worldcast from transatlantic satellite operator Orion Atlantic. In the US, the company has launched its offering which it says will let companies connect multiple sites using Internet protocols with the added benefit of high bandwidth for multi-media communications. It is pitching the service at those multinationals with operations around the globe, but with particular emphasis on North America and Europe.
According to David Puente, VP of Customer Engineering for Maryland-based Orion, the service will be cheaper than using existing bandwidth options over terrestrial links. "It will offer a cost advantage and is well suited to broadcast-based applications, including push media," he said at the recent Comnet 97 exhibition where Orion demonstrated the service for the first time. The basic starting cost will be $8,000 broadcasting from a roof to multiple receive-only locations. These receiving locations can respond by satellite or via terrestrial links. Ongoing costs are estimated at $35,000 a month, depending on the number of locations connected.
It's possible to save money because the satellite link reduces the need for high bandwidth on the corporate backbone. Puente estimates that a typical two-way fibre optic circuit costs about $50,000 a month. It also gets rid of the need for mirrored servers in Europe (which are commonly used to replicate Web servers in the US) to reduce US congestion and provide local links for European-based operations. Such mirror sites, though easy to set up, need space, maintenance and hardware.
Orion believes that with so much content on US servers (estimated at 80 per cent of Web content) there is a real need to send data direct to Europe via satellite rather than the increasingly congested links currently in use. The footprint of the Orion 1 space satellite stretches from the Rocky Mountains to Europe, and from parts of Canada to Mexico, with service from 64Kbps to 45Mbps.
Orion was notable for being the first company to seek regulatory approval during the Reagan administration for private ownership of an international communications satellite. Today it offers services in North America and Europe and will be launching a second satellite next year to serve Korea, China, India, Japan, Australia, Southeast Asia and Hawaii. With a third satellite planned to cover South America it is predicting a coverage of 85 per cent of the world's population by the millennium.
So far, no customers have been announced although Orion has been testing the service with Internet Way, an ISP based in Paris. In the UK, DirecPC launched a satellite-based service last month. Reviews of the service indicate that initial expectations of high-speed access have been unfulfilled. DirecPC is not currently targeting the UK business market (see review, page 77).
As mentioned in last month's issue of Internet World, Switzerland-based Fantastic hopes to attract the multimedia industry with its Data Broadcasting Service, which it calls a "no wait" multimedia Internet solution. It will involve satellite and cable links which Fantastic launched at Milia 97, the top multi-media exhibition.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago