A new satellite service is offering an alternative to ISDN lines for fast Web access. The DirecPC service from Hughes Olivetti Telecom (HOT) can deliver data at up to 400Kbps - more than three times the 128Kbps offered by twin basic rate ISDN lines. The primary idea is to deliver information - one car manufacturer uses the service to send out updated service manuals that were previously published on CD.
But a service called Turbo Internet, aimed at Web users, offers full interactivity. You connect by a standard phone line to your service provider and return data is diverted to the HOT satellite for fast delivery. It is priced initially for business users. A satellite dish and PC card costs #1,100 and there are two subscription structures:
Low usage costs #13 a month for up to 30Mb, with each extra megabyte costing 95p.
High usage costs #52 a month for up to 130Mb and 85p per extra megabyte.
These prices are likely to fall, says Brian Milnes, managing director of Satellite Digital Systems (01494 455460) which distributes the system. "Obviousl,y the more people who use the system, the cheaper it can get."
A US company called En Technology offers a still cheaper system to broadcast Web pages and new forms of edutainment via a standard TV signal - unlike systems like Ceefax that use the spare part of the TV signal known as the vertical blanking interval (VBI) to send data.
UK agent Martyn Rose (01823 665100) said two cable companies and a public satellite service were interested in providing content. A PC card for the system costs as little as #60 and might even be free to long-term subscribers.
Furthermore, cable giant Nynex is experimenting with 10Mbps cable modems.
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