CHAPTER 2

MARKET FORCES AND FUTURE DRIVERS

MARKET FORCES

Introduction

Satellites are uniquely suited to certain applications. These include (1) broadcasting, (2) service to mobile users (including ships, aircraft, land mobile and emergency services), and (3) providing nearly "instant infrastructure" in underserved areas. This last feature is the basis for a large number of recent filings in the United States for Ka-band systems, many of which seek to offer global or nearly global service. A significant factor in these plans has been the growth of the Internet (and the rise of corporate "intranets") which shows no sign of abating, despite the poor access that most users currently enjoy. Thus, the fielding of some of these Ka-band systems could overcome "the last mile connection" problem encountered in most developed countries (as well as permit a host of new services to be offered elsewhere in the world). This would be a role not previously served by satellites, but there are several rival technologies being pursued by the telephone and cable companies that could limit the market penetration that satellites achieve.

This Section discusses three telecommunication trends that are fueling interest in satellite systems. These are direct-to-the-home television (DTH) broadcasting, or direct broadcast satellite (DBS); the enormous growth in wireless hand-held phone usage (cellular, personal communication services (PCS) and paging); and the growth in the number of personal computers (PC's) in the world, increasing numbers of which are multimedia ready and are being used to interconnect with the Internet and/or collect information from the World Wide Web. These three topics are treated in turn in the sections that follow.

Direct Broadcast Satellite

The distribution of TV signals via satellite began in the United States as an inexpensive means of delivering program material (e.g., CNN news) to several hundred cable head-ends spread over the country. This service began at C-band and caused satellite manufacturers (such as Hughes) to launch powerful domestic satellites carrying many transponders so that many cable systems could receive all of their program material with a single earth-station antenna. In time, a cottage industry developed, selling C-band receive-only systems (with typically 2 or 3 meter (8 or 10') diameter antennas) to consumers to eavesdrop on these broadcasts. The number of such installations is now thought to be around 2 million.

It is widely believed that a small size receiving antenna-something that can readily be mounted on the side of a house, for example-is necessary to reach a large subscriber base. Hughes has been the first to approach this market. In 1994 it launched a high-power (~120 watts/transponder) 16-transponder satellite (DBS-1) capable of beaming over 100 digitally-compressed TV channels to viewers, who receive the signals with a 45 cm (18") diameter antenna and set top box converter costing initially about $700. (Prices have since dropped because the service providers have begun to subsidize the purchase). Further capacity increases were achieved with the launches of DBS-2 and DBS-3, and this service (known as DirecTV) was expecting to have over 3 million subscribers by the end of 1997. Hughes DirecTV and Stanley Hubbard's United States Satellite Broadcasting (USSB) both use these satellites.

Primestar, which is owned by the five biggest U.S. cable companies (COMCAST, Continental Cablevision, Cox, TCI, and Time Warner) offers a competing service via a GE Americom satellite placed in service in January 1997. Primestar's subscribers must use a large 1 m (3') dish, but do not have to purchase the equipment whose cost is recovered via the rental agreement. At year-end 1997, Primestar had over 1.9 million subscribers and Echostar had close to one million subscribers. It should be noted that there are currently 2.2 million subscribers to the C-band backyard systems.

MCI and News Corp. won the rights (at a cost of $682.5 million) to occupy the last Ku-band slot from which to broadcast over 200 channels across the nation via a partnership known as American Sky Broadcasting (ASkyB), but MCI has since indicated its desire to scale back its involvement. This forced Time News to seek a merger with Echostar, which is due to receive its powerful Echostar III satellite (being built by Lockheed Martin) in 1998. In addition, TCI plans to inaugurate DBS service at the end of 1997 with a high-power satellite launched into an orbital slot it already controlled, and to use digital compression to deliver Primestar programming to smaller dishes, as well as to cable head ends for distribution on existing cable networks that have limited capacity. Current expectations are that U.S. DBS subscribers will number about 6 million by the end of 1997 and could be double this number by the end of the year 2000.

DBS has enjoyed an even more solid growth in Europe, in part from an earlier start, and in part from the poorer penetration of cable systems. A French media group based in Paris, (Canal+) launched a direct TV service in 1995 via the Luxembourg-based Astra satellites. The British Sky Broadcasting Group offers DBS to 5 million U.K. subscribers. In all, it is estimated that there are 25 million European subscribers to DTH pay TV.

In Latin America, there is competition between a consortium (consisting of TCI, News Corp., Globo (Brazil) and Grupo Televisa (Mexico)) and Hughes DirecTV to capture their share of a potential 400 million viewers.

By far the largest market for DBS may be in Asia, which already has DirecTV and Rupert Murdoch-owned Star TV. In Japan, the Sky Broadcasting Company (JSkyB) and Sony launched a digital satellite TV project in April 1997. "PerfecTV," Japan's first digital TV broadcaster, had an audience of over 80,000 for its 65 channels within 2 months of its launch in 1996. Several single country projects are now underway in various other parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

According to some forecasts, the DTH market is likely to grow to over 100 million subscribers worldwide with as many as one-third in the Asia-Pacific region by 2010. The total annual revenue generated by these services could be in the region of $20 billion.

Several factors have contributed to the rise of interest in DBS systems. Digital compression has allowed the delivery of good quality NTSC pictures at a bit rate of only 1.5 Mbps, allowing up to 10 TV pictures to be transmitted simultaneously by a single high-power Ku-band transponder. Thus, with a single satellite operators can offer upwards of 100 channels, and compete effectively with the cable companies.

Another technical advance has been in the manufacture of reliable highpower (≥ 100 watt) Ku-band traveling wave tubes. Next, rising standards of living throughout the world, bringing about more leisure time (and disposable income), have created the demand for new sources of entertainment that DBS can readily fill.

Satellite PCS

In 1996, the United States had almost 40 million cellular telephone subscribers, while Western Europe had a little over 30 million, Japan perhaps 15 million and Latin America only 5 million. In the United States the expectation is that the number of subscribers to wireless phone services will double by 2000, with less than half being served by the older analog (Amps) service and the rest being served by newer digital ones (CDMA and TDMA) as well as personal communications (PCS, which is offered at higher frequencies). By 2005, the number of subscribers to these services is expected to exceed 250 million world-wide with the largest concentrations in Asia, the United States and Europe in that order.

The demand for personal portable telephones has greatly exceeded the expectations of all the early forecasts, and has caused several groups to attempt to offer this type of service via satellite. Spurred by a bold plan by Motorola to build a global system using 77 (later changed to 66) low-earth orbiting satellites known as Iridium, several other companies followed suit with designs for competing systems. Table 2.1 summarizes the properties of three global systems and Table 2.2 the communications characteristics of these systems and two regional systems that are also believed to be under construction.

Table 2.1
Proposed New Global Satellite PCS Systems

Parameter

Iridium

Globalstar

ICO-Global

Ellipso

ECCO

No. of Active Satellites

66+6 spare

48

10 +2 spare

14 + 3 spare

11 + 1 spare

No. of Satellites per Orbit Plane

11

8

5

2 inclined and 1 equatorial

1 (initially)

No. of Orbit Planes

6

6

2

4 and 6

11

Orbit Altitude (km)

750

1,414

10,355

N.A. 8,040 equatorial

2,000

Orbit Inclination

86.5°

52°

45°

116.5

No. of Spot Beams/Satellite

48

16

163

61

32

Reported Cost ($billion)

4.7

2.5

4.6

0.91

1.15



Table 2.2
Communications Characteristics of the Proposed New Satellite PCS Systems

Parameter

Iridium

Globalstar

ICO-Global

GEO Regionals

Mobile User Link

       

Frequency, U/D (GHz)

1.62135-1.6265

1.6100-1.62135/ 2.4835-2.49485

1.980-2.010/

2.170-2.200

1.525-1.559/ 1.625-1.6605

Bandwidth (MHz)

5.15

11.35

30

34

Spot Beams/Satellite

48

16

163

>240

Voice Bit Rate (coded) kbps

4.2(6.25)

2.4

4.8 (6.0)

3.6(5.2)

Feeder Link

       

Frequency U/Down (GHz)

30/20

5.1/6.9

5.2/6.9

14/12

Gateway Antenna G/T(dB/K)

24.5

28.5

26.6

37.0

User Terminal

       

Multiple Access

TDMA-FDMA

CDMA-FDMA

TDMA-FDMA

TDMA-FDMA

Carrier Bandwidth (kHz)

TDD, 31.5

1250

25.2

27

Carrier Bit Rate (kbps)

50

2.4

36

45

Modulation

DQPSK

PN/QPSK

QPSK

QPSK

Rf Power (W)

0.45

0.5

0.625

0.5

G/T (dB/K)

-23.0

-22.0

-23.8

-23.8

Nominal Link Margin (dB)

16.5

3-6*

10

10

Nominal Capacity/Satellite (ckts)

1,100

2,400

4,500

16,000



* For a small number of channels this can be raised to 11 dB.

The Iridium system is being built by Motorola, together with subcontractors (e.g., Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, COM DEV). It consists of a fleet of 66, low earth orbiting satellites at 780 kilometer altitude. Eleven satellites will be equally spaced in each of six, circular, nearly polar orbits. Subscribers access the satellites via L-band spot beams (each satellite can activate up to 48) using a TDMA scheme for transmitting voice, coded at 2.4 kbps, or data. Each satellite can handle up to 1,100 simultaneous calls. TDMA packets arriving at a satellite are demodulated and, depending on their destination, routed (at 20 GHz) to a gateway earth station (if one is in view), or (at 23 GHz) to the satellite ahead or behind in the same orbital plane, or the satellite to the east or west in the adjacent orbital plane. The public switched network will be connected to the system via 11 geographically distributed gateway earth stations. Motorola expects the Iridium system to be in full operation by the end of 1998. The Globalstar system, being built by Loral and QUALCOMM, employs 48 satellites at 1,414 km altitude arranged with eight satellites equispaced in six circular inclined orbits. The orbit inclination is 52°, thereby concentrating the satellite availability to the more populated regions of the earth (i.e., below 70° latitude). This arrangement also permits two satellites to be above the horizon most of the time for subscribers below about ± 65° latitude, affording diversity-path routing. This will help in overcoming blockage by buildings or other obstructions. The satellites each employ 16 beams operating at 2.5 GHz for the satellite-to-subscriber link and the same number at 1.6 GHz for the subscriber-to-satellite link. The satellite-to-gateway and gateway-to-satellite links are at 5 and 7 GHz, respectively. The satellites carry no on-board processors and operate as "bent pipe" repeaters. Users employ handsets operating in a digital CDMA fashion (similar to the QUALCOMM cellular CDMA system) with an average rate of 2.4 kbps. To access a satellite requires that the user be within about 1,000 miles of a gateway earth station. At present, there are plans to construct over 100 gateways. However, Globalstar will not be able to offer true global service (unlike Iridium) and is more likely to cater to individuals who travel (or live) in unserved parts of their own countries, rather than international business travelers (the primary target market for Iridium).

A third system under construction will employ satellites in medium earth orbits (MEO) at 10,000 km altitude. This is being built by a spin-off from Inmarsat called ICO-Global, which plans to put five satellites into two orbit planes inclined at 45°. These satellites, which are being built by Hughes, will each use 163 spot beams, requiring onboard processing to route the signals to the correct beam. This system is expected to be in full operation by 2001.

Despite the apparent headstart of these three systems the FCC recently licensed two additional entrants. Mobile Communications Holdings, Inc. (MCHI) received a license for a 17 satellite system called Ellipso and Constellation Communication, Inc. (CCI) received a license for a system of 12 satellites orbiting above the equator called ECCO. It remains to be seen if there is sufficient risk capital available for all of these systems to be completed.

Table 2.2 also lists the parameters of typical geostationary regional systems--a number of which have been proposed as listed in Table 2.3. The status of some of these proposed systems is not presently clear; presumably they are seeking financing and regulatory approval. Known to be definitely proceeding are the Asia Cellular Satellite System (ACeS) being built by Lockheed Martin to serve southern China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, and Thuraya being built by Hughes to serve the Middle East. These systems will likely require a higher degree of user cooperation (e.g., finding a clear view of the satellite) and involve the technically risky proposition of unfurling two large (10-12 m) antennas in space. They do, however, appear capable of offering a lower cost service to subscribers in their coverage area than any of the global systems, and could be a distinct threat if several are in fact built.

Table 2.3
Proposed New Regional Mobile Satellite Communications Systems

System

Manufacturer

No. of Satellites

Launch Date

Thuraya

Hughes

1

1999

ACeS

Lockheed Martin

2

1998

East

Matra Marconi

1

2000



Satellites for Fixed Services

Several factors are driving an explosion of interest in fixed satellite service (FSS) systems. These include:

Unfortunately, it has become extremely difficult to secure an orbital location along the geostationary arc from which one can operate at C or Ku-band without interfering with traffic on adjacent satellites. While additional frequency assignments for commercial satellite use have existed at Ka-band (roughly wavelengths in the 1.5- to 1-cm range), these have not been considered until now owing to the fact that rain absorbs these wavelengths, and little in the way of earth terminal equipment is available for this band. The success of experimental Ka-band satellites launched by the United States, Europe, and Japan, together with the absence of other available spectrum, has caused what amounts to a "land rush" to file for geostationary orbital locations for Ka-band systems. Presently on file with the ITU are applications for more than 170 orbit locations, of which about 50 are from the United States alone.

Within the United States, the FCC conducted a rule making for proponents of new Ka-band systems. Fourteen applicants filed for systems, including such large companies as Hughes, Motorola, AT&T, and GE Americom. Thirteen applications were for geostationary systems, and one (Teledesic) was for a system operating in LEO. AT&T subsequently withdrew its filing, and Motorola has apparently decided not to pursue Celestri, a system it had proposed before becoming a prime contractor for Teledesic.

In May 1997, the FCC authorized construction of the 13 proposed Ka-band systems, and allocated orbit locations to the 12 that plan to employ geostationary satellites. All systems must begin operation by 2002 or risk losing their licenses.

The proposed systems would accelerate realization of both national and global information infrastructures (NII/GII), particularly in regions of the world where terrestrial telecommunications infrastructures are nonexistent or inadequate for high-speed communications. Satellite-based systems are also indispensable for emergency communications services, speedy news gathering, mobile communications, and military applications.

Proposed services include voice, data, video, imaging, video teleconferencing, interactive video, TV broadcast, multimedia, global Internet, messaging, and trunking. A wide range of applications is planned through these services, including distance learning, corporate training, collaborative workgroups, telecommuting, telemedicine, wireless backbone interconnection (i.e., wireless LAN/WAN), video distribution, direct-to-home video, and satellite news-gathering, as well as the distribution of software, music, scientific data, and global financial and weather information.

Probably the single largest market seen by all of the proponents of these systems is the growth of personal computers and their access to the Internet. It is estimated that worldwide there were 300 million PCs in 1996, with annual sales of 60 million (although many of these went to replacing older units). The sale of PCs has been spurred by dramatic performance improvements (roughly a factor of two every 18 months) at no increase in price to the consumer. In the United States the percentage of households having PCs in the home is 38.5% while in Europe it typically ranges between 40% and 60%. The number of these PCs currently connected to the Internet remains low in Europe, however, (typically 10%-20%) despite the rapid growth of the World Wide Web. Thus Europe (and Asia) are attractive markets for satellites to provide Web access.

Overall, North America had 24 million Internet users in 1996 and Europe 9 million. Globally, the projected number of users by 2000 is expected to exceed 150 million.

The Web grew from 130 sites in June of 1993 to 230,000 by June of 1996 and is probably doubling each year. While access is presently limited to low rates by current technology, efforts are being made by the regional Bell operating companies and the cable companies to provide higher speed downloading of information, and Hughes provides a hybrid telephone/satellite service (called DirecPC) which will deliver data at 500 kbps. Demand for higher speed is being driven by the increased use of detailed color images at Web sites as well as the need to deliver sound and video clips. Multinational companies are exploiting the existence of the Internet to construct their own semi-private "intranets" that allow employees, suppliers and sometimes customers all to interconnect via "firewalls" that exclude others from their network. Since companies (more so than consumers) are early adopters of new technology they represent an attractive market for satellite-delivered intranet services, particularly in parts of the world where the terrestrial infrastructure is poor.

The use of the Internet for commerce has been hampered by security concerns and was probably less than $1 billion in 1996. However, as these privacy issues get resolved, there is likely to be considerable growth in the amount of merchandise sold via the Internet. Some suggest this could exceed $40 billion by 2000.

For the foregoing reasons there is now believed to be a huge opportunity for satellites to provide "last mile" connections to homes and offices-a role that they have not enjoyed heretofore.

Table 2.4 provides a summary of some six proposed U.S. systems operating wholly or in part at Ka-band that plan to offer global service. The Teledesic system, originally designed to use 840 satellites in low-earth orbit, is being redesigned and will now operate with 288 or fewer. The numbers given in Table 2.5 are those from Teledesic's original filing, as little has yet been published about the new design.

The Astrolink System (proposed by Lockheed Martin) the Spaceway portion of the Galaxy/Spaceway system (proposed by Hughes) and GE*Star (proposed by GE Americom) are each systems that employ nine satellites among five geostationary orbit locations with intersatellite links to route traffic around the globe.

Morningstar and Cyberstar are somewhat less ambitious systems that target high population centers with four and three geostationary satellites, respectively. All of the systems propose to employ multiple, high-power, narrow, spot beams to service small user terminals and (with the exception of Morningstar) propose to interconnect these beams (and any intersatellite links) with onboard digital processors. Uplink power control and other strategies (e.g., concatenated coding) will be employed to mitigate rain fading, but the availability of some of the systems will be as low as 99.5% in some parts of the world.

Typical user terminals are expected to employ antennas of less than 1 meter in diameter with a power of 1-5 watts and to operate at speeds of 64 kbps to 1.54 Mbps. Gateway terminals will be larger, (2.4 - 5 meters), more powerful (up to 200 watts), and operate at higher speeds (e.g., 155 Mbps).

Motorola announced three ambitious systems, but apparently does not intend to pursue them while working on Teledesic. The first system that the company applied for was called Millenium, which was to have four geostationary Ka-band satellites to serve North, Central and South America. Subsequently, Motorola filed for a new system known as M-Star operating above Ka-band and employing 72 satellites in low earth orbit. M-Star would have provided trunking at very high rates between major traffic hubs (e.g., Internet service providers) using uplinks in the 47.2 - 50.2 GHz band and downlinks occupying 37.5 - 40.5 GHz. In yet a third filing, Motorola proposed a system called Celestri, which represented a merger of the two previous ones plus a new component. Celestri would have employed 63 Ka-band LEO satellites at 1,400 km altitude and an unspecified number of geostationary satellites to offer users data rates of up to 155 Mbps.

The Celestri filing caused the FCC to open a window for a second round of Ka-band filings, resulting in seven more proposed U.S. systems that would offer global service. These are listed in Table 2.5.

Table 2.4
U.S. Licensed Ka-band Global Satellite Communications Systems

Company

System

Orbit

Coverage

No. of Satellites

Satellite Capacity (Gbps)

Intersatellite Link

Onboard Switching

Capital Investment

($billion)

Lockheed Martin

Astrolink

GEO

Global

9

7.7

1 Gbps

FPS

4

Loral

Cyberstar

GEO

Limited Global

3

4.9

1 Gbps

BBS

1.05

Hughes

Galaxy/ Spaceway

GEO

Global

20

4.4

1 Gbps

BBS

5.1

GE Americom

GE*Star

GEO

Limited Global

9

4.7

None

BBS

4.0

Morning Star

Morning Star

GEO

Limited Global

4

0.5

None

None

0.82

Teledesic

Teledesic

LEO

Global

840*

13.3*

1 Gbps*

FPS*

9*



FPS: Fast packet Switch; BBS: Baseband Switch

* Original design numbers

Table 2.5
Ka-band Second Round Filings-Proposed New U.S. Global Systems

Company

System

Orbit(s)

Number of Satellites

Coverage

Satellite Capacity

Intersat. Links

Onboard Routing

Capital Investment $billion

@ Contact LLC.

 

ICO

16

± 65°

7.3

Yes Radio 4

Baseband (ATM) Switch

3.6

Hughes Comm. Inc.

SE

GEO

8

Limited Global

59.5

Yes Optical 3

Microwave Switch Matrix

2.3

Hughes Comm. Inc.

SNGSO

ICO

20

± 80°

7.2

Yes Optical 4

Microwave Switch Matrix and Baseband

2.4

Lockheed Martin Corp.

Astrolink Phase II

GEO

5

Global

9.2

Yes Radio 3

Baseband (ATM) Switch

2.2

Lockheed Martin Corp.

LM-MEO

ICO

32

Global

2.6 (Ka) 9.9 (v)

Yes Optical 6

Baseband Switch

12.9

Motorola

Celestri

LEO

63

± 65°

1.8

Yes Optical 6

Baseband Switch

12.9

PanAmSat Corp.

 

GEO

6

Limited Global

1.2

Yes Radio

Microwave Switch Matrix

1.1

Even more ambitious than the Ka-band systems listed in Table 2.4 and 2.5 are a group of filings proposed for satellites operating in the Q and V-bands. The frequency allocations proposed by the FCC for such systems are listed in Table 2.6.

Table 2.6
FCC-Proposed Frequency Allocations for Satellites Operating in Q and V-bands
 

Downlink

Uplink

Geostationary (GS0)

37.5-40.5 GHz

47.2-50.2 GHz

Non-Geostationary (NGSO)

37.5-38.5 GHz

48.2-49.2 GHz

Some 16 filings were received for systems operating in these bands from U.S. companies of which 14 are for global systems. These are listed in Table 2.7. The likely impact of rain and atmospheric attenuation is so severe at these frequencies that it seems improbable that any of the systems proposed would be built until such time as the Ka-band spectrum becomes congested. That is, an orderly migration of C- to Ku- and Ku- to Ka-band can be expected before systems are built at Q and V-band.

In addition to the systems listed in Table 2.5, a number of regional or domestic Ka-band systems have been proposed, which, if built, could absorb some of the market the global systems hope to capture.

Table 2.7
Proposed U.S. Q/V-band Global Satellite Systems

Company

System

Orbit

Number of Satellites

Coverage

Satellite Capacity

Inter- Satellite Link

Onboard Switching

Capital Investment $B

Denali Telecom. LLC

Pentriad

Molniya

9

25° -85° N

≤≤ 36

No

Microwave Switch Matrix

1.9

GE Americom

GE* StarPlus

GEO

11

Global

~ 70

No

Microwave Switch Matrix

3.4

Globalstar L.P.

GS-40

LEO

80

± 70°

~ 1

No

Microwave Switch Matrix

?

Hughes Comm. Inc.

Expressway

GEO

14

Limited Global

~ 65

Optical 3 Gbps

SSTDMA

3.9

Hughes Comm. Inc.

SpaceCast

GEO

6

Limited Global

~ 64

Optical 3 GBps

SSTDMA

1.7

Hughes Comm. Inc.

StarLynx

GEO & MEO

4 & 20

± 80

≤ 5.9 ≤ 6.3

     

Lockheed Martin

Q/V-Band

GEO

9

Global

≤ 45

3 Optical 2 Radio

ATM Baseband

4.75

Loral Space and Comm. Ltd.

Cyberpath

GEO

10

Global

17.9

2 Radio

ATM Baseband

1.17 (for 4)

Motorola

M-Star

LEO

72

± 60°

~ 3.6

2 Radio

Microwave Switch Matrix & SSTDMA

6.4

Orbital Sciences Corp.

Orblink

MEO

7

± 50

~ 75

2 Radio

Microwave Switch Matrix

0.9

PanAmSat

Vstream

GEO

12

Global

< 3.2

2 Radio

Microwave Switch Matrix

3.5

Spectrum Astro, Inc.

Aster

GEO

25

Global

~ 10

2 Optical

SSTDMA & Baseband

2.4

Teledesic

VBS

LEO

72

Global

4

4 Optical

Baseband

1.9

TRW

GESN

GEO & MEO

14 & 15

± 70°

~ 50 ~ 70

10 Optical 4 Optical

Baseband

3.4

An interesting Ku-band global system has recently been proposed by Alcatel-Alsthom of France. This is a $3.9 billion project to place 64 satellites in a low-earth orbit system, known as Skybridge. Unique to this project is the use of Ku-band (which greatly reduces the rain fade problem) and a scheme to avoid interfering with the existing fixed-satellite-service Ku-band satellites in geostationary orbit. The satellites are stationed to cross the sky in pairs and both the gateway and user terminals are commanded to switch from one satellite to the alternate whenever the line-of-sight to the satellite in use approaches ±10° of the geostationary orbital arc. While the scheme is ingenious, the penalty is to require all users to employ at least two tracking antennas to achieve uninterrupted service (however, this is probably also a requirement for Teledesic).

Another disadvantage of Skybridge is the need to place a hub station in every beam requiring 387 gateways to cover the landmass visible to the system. It is understood that Loral is prepared to invest in Skybridge and in return Alcatel will invest in Cyberstar.

While it is difficult to predict any winners or losers at this juncture, it is clear that if one or more of these systems is fielded successfully then satellites may enjoy a role they have not previously served-namely that of providing so-called "last mile" connections to homes and offices.


Published: December 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian