EarthLink gets satellite access off the ground

The Internet service provider plans to offer high-speed access through Hughes Electronics' DirecPC satellite systems.

Jim Hu Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jim Hu
covers home broadband services and the Net's portal giants.
Jim Hu
EarthLink said Wednesday that it will offer high-speed Internet access through Hughes Electronics' DirecPC satellite systems.

Satellite service is another way by which EarthLink users can access the Internet. EarthLink already offers Internet service through digital subscriber line (DSL), cable and wireless connections. Like other Internet service providers such as America Online, MSN and Juno Online Services, EarthLink wants new and existing consumers to access the Internet through as many ways as possible.

"The ultimate vision for EarthLink Broadband is to offer a variety of high-speed options to our members, and our agreement with DirecPC is a big step in that direction," Tom Andrus, vice president of emerging technologies at EarthLink, said in a statement.

ISPs are feeling a demand to offer high-speed broadband access to increasingly Web-hungry consumers. Already, AOL has tested a version of its popular online service that uses DirecPC's satellite signals to access the Internet. Meanwhile, Microsoft plans to sell satellite service from Israeli company Gilat Satellite Networks to customers who sign up for MSN in RadioShack stores.

EarthLink has also been trying to step into the broadband spotlight. The Atlanta-based company has disclosed to federal regulators and the press that it received competitively unfavorable terms when trying to strike a deal to offer its services on Time Warner's cable lines.

As AOL and Time Warner finalize their merger with regulators, the companies are under increased pressure to let competitive ISPs on their broadband network. EarthLink is one ISP that has negotiated with the companies for carriage.