Saturn starts big spend with $1.5m Sun servers

Saturn Communications' latest purchase of $1.5 million worth of technology from Solnet is just the start of what looks like begin a big spending year for the Hutt-based company. Saturn expects to spend $50 million this year in expanding its cable rollout and launching services such as telephony, high-speed data, Internet and video on demand.

Saturn Communications’ latest purchase of $1.5 million worth of technology from Solnet is just the start of what looks like begin a big spending year for the Hutt-based company.

Managing director Jack Matthews says Saturn expects to spend $50 million this year in expanding its cable rollout and launching services such as telephony, high-speed data, Internet and video on demand. This compares with $22 million last year.

The latest purchase — a series of Sun 64-bit Ultrasparc high-end servers, Sun’s MediaCenter digital video servers, plus more than 600Gb of online video storage — is aimed at the development of interactive video and other services.

Solnet is developing customised operations management software using Java.

“The same capacity you have on your VCR, we are installing on the network,” says Solnet business development manager John Heard.

Other likely developments are putting in such appliances as network computers and Web TVs on the front end of such networks. Another interesting idea is linking to cellular phones and trunking them through the cable network.

Solnet will also be involved with Saturn’s cable modem trials later this year. Saturn is also investigating such technologies as ISDN and ADSL.

Matthews is however at this point sceptical about ADSL — a technology also being trialled by Telecom.

“We don’t think it’s a particularly good technology — we think it’s going to be limited to data,” he says. He points to unsatisfactory trials of the technology by British Telecom in the United Kingdom and says the next DSL technology — VDSL — sounds more promising at this point.

Matthews says that in addition to the cable rollout, which now covers not only a large part of the Hutt but also a sizeable portion of Wellington city , Saturn is also linking its fibre network with a copper “overlay”. This involves taking the fibre cable to the node and then running copper into the home.

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