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Compaq PCs offer satellite Net access

The world's largest PC maker offers customers Net access via satellite, the third leg in a strategy of promoting faster connections.

Compaq is making it easier to get onto the Internet--by way of outer space.

Compaq introduced a new program aimed at getting customers Internet access via satellite, the third leg in the company's strategy of promoting faster connections to the Net.

By mid-May, the company will buy custom-configured PCs with equipment needed for satellite data services from DirecPC. The systems will be available at kiosks in stores and its Web site, as previously reported.

With a push from Compaq, the world's largest PC maker, the market for satellite services could gain some measure of credibility as a viable alternative to other ways of getting on the Net.

A universal serial bus (USB) adapter needed for the service will ease the installation process, which the companies hope will encourage more users to sign on to the service. Internet access through a satellite hook-up provides download speeds of up to 400 kilobits per second (kbps), while information is sent out over regular telephone lines at up to 33.6 kbps.

PCs with the satellite hookup package will be available starting at $1,899. Monthly Net access charges will start at $30 a month for 25 hours.

The initiative is the third leg of the company's "Triple Play" strategy to link users with high-speed Internet services. Compaq already offers PCs configured for cable and digital subscriber line (DSL) and has signed deals with respective carriers so consumers can obtain these services.

Compaq last year launched its broadband initiative and announced DirecPC as a partner. The company already provides a link from its site to DirecPC's Web site, but the new program will simplify the buying process.