PanAmSat Plans Video-Streaming Network


PanAmSat Corp. said last week that it will invest more than $250 million to create a high-bandwidth network via satellite in order to help reduce terrestrial congestion of Internet-protocol video, audio and data content.

The company plans to court both content owners and high-speed Internet-service providers with the new service, dubbed "NET/36," which is expected to roll out in the United States in the third quarter of this year, and which could eventually have global applications.

U S West will work with PanAmSat in the second quarter on consumer tests, using its "MegaBit" digital-subscriber-line service. A third-quarter service rollout is planned.

PanAmSat also said it would partner with streaming-media provider RealNetworks Inc. to apply its "RealSystem G2" scalable distribution architecture. More than 95 million registered "RealPlayer" users would be able to access multimedia content from the architecture.

"What a satellite overlay provides is a clear, no-delay connection between the source of high-quality content and the last mile to the user," PanAmSat chief technology officer Robert Bednarek said.

Without satellite delivery, streaming video, for example, might need to pass through so many terrestrial links and routers that it could slow delivery significantly.

PanAmSat will supply-at no cost to qualified cable headends and DSL providers-the downlink equipment and the necessary servers and routers needed at the last mile, Bednarek said. The satellite-receiving equipment is virtually identical to that used for digital video, he added.

Servers can be set up to replicate the streams for multiple users, Bednarek said, so that "you don' t have to pull multiple copies of the same thing across the Internet. If you have 500 users attached to the server, we can feed the video once."

Content providers will be charged for the service on the basis of hits delivered.

PanAmSat has 20 satellites in orbit, and has initially allocated 24 Ku-band transponders for the project. It hopes to deploy 1,000 compatible servers to ISPs within the next 12 months.

Separately, World Satellite Network Inc. (WSNet) announced plans to launch a new digital-satellite-television service in May for private cable operators, small cable systems and wireless cable providers.

WSNet signed an agreement with Loral Skynet for transponders on TelStar 6, as well as a programming-transport deal with AT & T Broadband' s Headend in the Sky for its "HITS2HOME" service. WSNet can offer affiliates more than 190 channels, including digital audio, pay-per-view and premium services.

Also, AlphaStar Inc. said it will team up with mPhase Technologies Inc. to deliver interactive-television and other multimedia services via satellite to telephone companies looking to provide video services using DSL.

Hartwell, Ga.-based Hart Telephone Co. plans to test the service this month. AlphaStar is finalizing programming contracts.