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Teledesic turns to Italian satellite maker

Thu, 01/31/2002 - 7:00pm
Anne Kerven

Under a new deal, Italian satellite maker Alenia Spazio SpA will build satellites for Teledesic LLC's global broadband Internet-in-the-Sky satellite communications network. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Teledesic developed a new constellation design of 30 medium-Earth-orbit satellites, it says. The company estimates the first 12 will cost fewer than $1 billion, or less than previous designs, but doesn't predict costs for the final 18, although those will allow full global coverage, it says.

Under the deal Alenia Spazio will make two satellites, with potential to build more.

Teledesic spokesman Roger Nyhus says the company is targeting a 2005 service date for initial coverage. "We haven't released details" on production dates or financial terms, he adds.

Teledesic claims some big names — Bill Gates and Craig McCaw are its two primary founding investors, with such strategic investors as Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, The Boeing Co. and The Abu Dhabi Investment Co.

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