Motorola M-Star project targets multinational corporations

Motorola is looking for partners for a US$6.1 billion project that would offer corporations the ability to send voice, video and data over low-orbit satellites.

Motorola is looking for partners for a US$6.1 billion project, dubbed M-Star, that would offer corporations the ability to send voice, video and data over low-orbit satellites, a spokeswoman says.

If Motorola is granted approval from the Federal Communications Commission to offer the service in the 40GHz to 50GHz band spectrum, the first of the planned 72 satellites would be launched in 1999 with service beginning in 2000, says Stephanie Nowack, a spokeswoman for Motorola's Satellite Communications Group in Chandler, Arizona.

Multinational companies and organisations with offices in multiple locations, such as banks, are the target customers. "The customers will end up having their own private network that is all interconnected," says Nowack. "That also gives them a level of security so they can transfer information back and forth around the world."

M-Star would offer two different channels for transmission: 43,000 E-1 channels would each have a capacity of 2Mbit/s, and 1500 OC-1 channels would each have a capacity of 52Mbit/s, she says. E-1 is the European equivalent of the North America 1.5Mbit/s T-1 except that it carries information at 2Mbit/s. OC-1, or Optical Carrier level-1, is the optical counterpart to Synchronous Transport Signal.

The M-Star project differs from another project Motorola launched last year, called Iridium, which will offer personal communication system services through mobile phones to individual consumers. Although Iridium can offer data, fax and paging, the primary application is voice communication.

M-Star will be geared for fixed, not mobile, users and the primary application will be high-speed data transmission, Nowack says.

Iridium, which is owned and operated by a consortium of 17 entities, will have satellites launched in January of 1997 with service expected to begin by the end of 1998, she says.

M-Star, meanwhile, will be operated by Motorola and owned by Motorola and its partners, which will number fewer than in the Iridium consortium, according to Nowack. Motorola will serve as a wholesaler of the satellite bandwidth and its partners will sell the service to customers.

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