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WildBlue Communications, whose dreams of building a residential broadband satellite service were on the verge of being flushed down the proverbial toilet, might soon find itself flush with cash thanks to a new round of funding.

The cash-starved startup got some much needed relief before the end of 2002 when several investors, led by Liberty Satellite, Intelsat and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC), agreed to infuse WildBlue with $156 million.

That investment, which is subject to FCC approval and the meeting of "certain conditions" by WildBlue, will give the satellite company the funding it needs to launch two-way, Ka-band-based residential services in 2004. WildBlue originally slated a 2001 commercial deployment.

Liberty Satellite, an early WildBlue investor, will invest another $58 million. In return, Liberty Satellite, after closing, will own about 32 percent of WildBlue and hold a 37 percent voting interest. Liberty Satellite's interest in WildBlue could come in handy down the road if its parent company, Liberty Media Group, and News Corp. are successful in their joint pursuit of DBS giant DirecTV Inc.

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