Alliance links locals to satellite

Totally Web Government initiative

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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."


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