Small firm to deliver news to desktop
- By Bryant Jordan
- Jun 08, 2000
Federal Wireless Users' Forum home page
A small, Northern Virginia-based company is preparing to offer agencies
a satellite-based service that beams programming such as C-SPAN and CNN
into a corner of employees' computer screens, enabling them to monitor events
without sacrificing computer performance.
Marshall Communications, Sterling, Va., could start offering the service
by October, according to its president and chief executive officer, Sonny
Marshall, speaking at a workshop of the Federal Wireless Users' Forum in
New Orleans this week.
"I would really see this as a benefit, especially for FEMA, monitoring what's
going on in the world, in the country," said Paulette Gemmer, program manager
for the General Services Administration's federal wireless telecommunications
Gemmer said workers at many agencies follow legislative proceedings broadcast
by C-SPAN and national and world events covered by CNN.
Marshall said his company is working out a contract with CNN. But other
news services also could be included in the package, including Bloomberg
Business Wire, according to Roland Waddell, a spokesman for the company.
"I can see other vertical news services that would [align] with certain
agencies," he said, such as broadcast services devoted exclusively to law
enforcement and legal affairs.
An agency would receive the service via a 1-meter satellite dish, which
would pick up a signal sent in four streams at 384 kilobits/sec. A distribution
box would then send the signal throughout the building to designated desktop
computers. The software to receive the signal would be downloaded off the
Internet for free.
The cost of the service would be $4 to $4.50 per seat but could be reduced
with volume discounts, Marshall said.
The video feed would take up less than a quarter of a screen, Marshall said.
The idea is to give the employees access to the news while they work and
not to turn their computers into TV screens. Marshall said it makes good
sense for agencies to receive the broadcasts in this way. Such news feeds
are available via the Web, but Webcasts slow overall computer function.
Marshall Communications, formerly Marshall Associates
Inc. is a small, minority-owned business. In February, Marshall picked up
a broadband distance-learning contract from GSA's Federal Technology Service
to provide commercial fixed, mobile and broadcast satellite services, multimedia
networking services and equipment to federal agencies.