Lockheed Martin Corp. plans to ground Astrolink International LLC, its $3.7
billion project to provide broadband Internet services via satellite for
business customers, due to a lack of additional financing, according to
The aerospace firm created Astrolink in 1999. Since then, several companies
have bought ownership stakes, including Liberty Media Corp., TRW Inc. and
Telespazio, a subsidiary of Telecom Italia SpA.
Astrolink's goal is to provide instant bandwidth on-demand for
videoconferencing and multimedia applications. Service was slated to begin in
Lockheed was projecting that it would cost $3.7 billion to implement the
entire global network and achieve cash-flow-positive status. But so far, reports
are that contributions from partners -- including $425 million from Liberty in
December 1999 -- have totaled just $1.3 billion, with little hope of raising
Arlene Taffera, director of corporate communications for Bethesda, Md.-based
Astrolink, would not confirm the reports, saying only, 'The board and the
company are evaluating all available alternatives and we have no further comment
at this time.'