Satellite failure hits US broadband services

The failure of a communications satellite on Sunday has knocked out broadband services supplied by StarBand Communications Inc., according to a statement posted on the company's web site.

The irreparable failure of Intelsat Americas-7 at 2:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday is forcing StarBand to move customers to a different satellite. Meanwhile, the company is attempting to provide temporary dial-up service to customers affected, the statement said.

The satellite owner, Intelsat Inc., said the craft had suffered a sudden and unexplained electrical anomaly and that it was permanently lost. The satellite was built by Space/Systems Loral and launched in September 1999. From its orbital position at 129 degrees West it covered North America, Central America, and parts of South America. The satellite was self-insured by Intelsat, according to the company.

StarBand did not say how many subscribers were affected.

StarBand serves residential customers at download speeds of 150k bps (bits per second) to 500k bps and small business customers at speeds up to 1M bps. Its services are available throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Subscribers use a 90 centimeter satellite dish to send and receive signals.

Intelsat said its IA-8 satellite, scheduled for a Dec. 17 launch, may take over some of the lost services. The IA-8 will provide 36 Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders according to the company.

The loss of the satellite could affect plans to sell the company, Intelsat said. A consortium led by Zeus Holdings Ltd. has bid for the company, but under an agreement with Intelsat, the total loss of the IA-7 satellite gives Zeus the right to cancel the deal. Zeus has advised Intelsat that it is evaluating the impact of the IA-7 failure, according to a statement by Intelsat.

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