Avionics Update: Teledesic's Internet-in-the-sky concept moves ahead
Satellite communications company Teledesic announced it has signed an agreement with Italian satellite maker Alenia Spazio SpA to build satellites for the company’s broadband Internet service. Formed by telecommunications maven Craig McCaw and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Teledesic will consist of 30 medium-orbit satellites and be designed to allow spectrum sharing with future Internet satellite systems. The first 12 Teledesic satellites are expected to cost about $1 billion to build and deploy. The contract with Alenia is for the first two of these satellites, and could be extended as production ramps up, said a spokesman. Teledesic is currently negotiating with a number of satellite makers. The final 18 satellites built for the network will give Teledesic global coverage for high-speed data transfer. Boeing is a so-called strategic investor in Teledesic, and will be tapped to develop the system’s aircraft-mounted phased-array antenna system. A spokesman for Teledesic told AIN that the company plans to market the service to business aircraft operators, but he added that it is still too early to say what size antenna will be required or how speedy the data pipeline will be. Scheduled to make its commercial debut in 2005, Teledesic is being targeted to business, government and non-government organizations that require ultra-fast Internet access.