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Hughes, Inktomi team on satellite caching

Hughes Network Systems is teaming up with the Internet software maker to give a speed boost to its services.

Hughes Network Systems, parent of the DirecPC satellite Net service, said Wednesday it is teaming up with Internet software maker Inktomi to give a speed boost to its services.

The two companies have agreed to set up a content distribution service that includes customers' own personal computers, caching content such as Web pages, graphics or other commonly viewed items on the surfer's own PC.

The agreement takes part of the Net-speeding model popularized by Akamai Technologies and others to a logical extreme, pushing content as close to each individual computer user as physically possible. As part of the agreement, Inktomi caching software will be installed in DirecPC customer computers, in set-top boxes and satellite receiver hardware, and at the Hughes network operations centers.

The goal is to bring speeds up to those of other high-speed Net access services such as cable or digital subscriber lines, and eliminate as much of the lag time associated with satellite transmission as possible. Hughes announced in November that it would use CacheFlow servers in its network, with the same intent in mind.

Other companies, such as Cidera and Edgix, use satellite distribution technology to help speed more traditional Net surfing.

Caching on a personal computer is not entirely new. Net browser software such as Netscape Communications' Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer have long dedicated small parts of individual computers to caching content. This new deal would dramatically expand that capability, however.