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Akamai signs satellite firms for streaming content

The Net content distribution provider partners with Cidera and Loral Cyberstar to beam high-speed Net content directly into its own network.

Akamai is raising the level of its high-speed Net ambitions sky-high.

The Net content distribution provider expanded its relationships with two satellite Internet companies today, signing Cidera and Loral Cyberstar to beam high-speed Net content directly into its own network.

In the case of content such as streaming video or audio, this could help avoid congestion at bottleneck points deep inside the Internet itself. These roadblocks are often responsible for slowing downloads or making streaming content choppy.

Akamai's service works by placing thousands of Net content servers in Internet service provider (ISP) networks around the world. When a Web surfer wants a piece of a site that is hosted in this network--such as the graphics on a Yahoo page, for example--the content can usually be downloaded from a machine physically close to the surfer's computer.

The deal with the satellite companies will help push this notion further into the broadband world. The two satellite companies will beam bandwidth-heavy content such as audio or video directly to the thousands of ISPs, where it will be stored in Akamai's servers.

Originally created solely for static content such as Web page graphics, Akamai has been moving as quickly as it can toward offering services like streaming video and e-commerce applications as a part of its portfolio.

But competitors Akamai aims to end Web waits such as Exodus Communications and Speedera Networks also have been adding features to their own Net-speeding services, increasing the pressure on market leader Akamai.

That growing rivalry has been reflected in Akamai's stock price, which is now trading in the high $60 range after reaching nearly $350 early this year. Marketing and research costs have also hurt the company's bottom line, resulting in ballooning losses.