Intel announced a European joint venture at the Cebit show in Germany yesterday, which will enable users to "bust the bottleneck" of PC communications by receiving multimedia information via satellite.
The chipmaker joined SES (Societe Europeene des Satellites), the Luxembourg-based operator of the Astra satellite television system, to form European Satellite Multimedia Services (ESMS). An Intel spokesperson said this "goes one step beyond push technology" by delivering multimedia content rapidly and directly to a user's desktop. The use of satellite "overcomes many of the bandwidth limitations that users are finding when they try to access multimedia services via the telephone line," said Astra.
Among the services likely to be offered are digests of the best Internet content of the day, and even specially prepared multimedia television-style programmes. The partners expect to sign up a wide range of content providers over the coming six months, which will take advantage of broadband satellite delivery to overcome the restrictions on telephone line bandwidth to improve their service to subscribers and probably to raise charges for premium offerings. Speed of delivery should be hundreds of times greater than that of dial-up modems.
The Luxembourg company holds a majority stake in the venture but expects further investors to join soon. It will operate a communications platform called Astra-NETTM, based on its Astra satellite.
Leslie Vadasz, Intel's director of corporate business development, said: "PC users in businesses and homes increasingly are demanding dedicated communications services. Intel?s investment in ESM is consistent with our strategy to encourage better PC communications services, including higher bandwidth delivery of data, to businesses and consumers."
Romain Bausch, director general of SES, added: "The combination of real time broadband satellite transmission with store-and-forward capabilities and emerging ?push? technologies offers an ideal platform for point-to-multipoint broadcasting of multimedia content."
He added that businesses, as well as media companies, are expected to sign up to use the satellite service, for instance to distribute brochures. He also believes there will be high demand from world regions with undeveloped telecomms infrastructures.
Almost 23 million European households currently have direct access to Astra satellite transmissions. The service will support the same standards as the Internet as well as Digital Video Broadcasting, the European standard for multimedia transmissions over satellite, cable, or terrestrial media.
The new services will be available after June this year to users who have a Pentium-class PC with DVB card and Astra satellite dish.
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