Alliance links locals to satellite
- By Dibya Sarkar
- May 03, 2002
Totally Web Government initiative
Building on an initiative to provide Web portal services to local governments,
IBM Corp. recently announced an alliance with Hughes Network Systems Inc.
for affordable broadband satellite connectivity, especially to rural areas.
In areas where no DSL or cable modem system is available, municipalities
could get satellite equipment installed for a start-up cost of $1,240 and
then pay $99 per month for 24-hour, high-speed Internet access.
More than 65 municipalities have expressed interest, although no one
has yet signed up for service, said Howard D. Young, client solution executive
for IBM Global Services.
IBM and the National Association of Counties (NACo) will be demonstrating
the service at its Western Interstate Region Conference this month in Billings,
Mont. Up to 175 counties are expected to attend.
The initiative comes on the heels of a partnership among IBM, NACo and
the National League of Cities called "Totally Web Government" to provide
affordable and easy-to-use Web development services for municipalities that
do not a virtual presence on the Internet. About 60 municipalities have
created and maintained Web sites since the service was offered December
Young said satellite broadband service was discussed last August when
NACo representatives said they have rural members that do not even have
a way to access the Internet. He said IBM looked at different options, including
DSL, but settled on Germantown, Md.-based Hughes' satellite solution because
the company had the experience of 330,000 such systems in place worldwide.
With NACo's input, IBM developed a uniform pricing structure for all
municipalities. The association also would be the single point of contact
for billing and administrative support with Hughes as a subcontractor, Young
said, adding, "There would be one throat to choke."
Municipalities can hook up more than one satellite dish for connectivity
if they don't have a wide-area network in place. Young said IBM also is
considering incorporating wireless technology for local-area networks in
some rural governments so they can connect workstations via satellite.
A clear view of the southern sky is all that's needed to use the satellite
service, Young said. However, he noted that Hughes officials told him, "The
only place we may have issues is Alaska."