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Cyberspace from outer space

Helius, a tiny firm in Utah, is using technology from NEC and satellite dishes from Hughes to provide high-speed Internet access.

A tiny Utah firm funded by former Novell chief Ray Noorda is using technology from NEC and satellite dishes from Hughes Network Systems to provide high-speed Internet access.

Helius is promising to provide 400-kbps access to the Net for hundreds of users from a single satellite dish by letting Novell NetWare networks piggyback onto high-speed Internet connections. Communications from a user back to the Net are handled by regular dial-up connections.

Initially launched in August as DirectPC for NetWare, the product has generated interest in sparsely populated parts of Canada, on the Navajo Indian reservation, and from schools, Helius president and CEO Myron Mosbarger told CNET.

"This really broadens our market substantially," Mosbarger said. Using a communications protocol developed by NEC called Socks5, DirectPC for NetWare is easier for network administrators to manage because it uses a single IP address for every person on the system. The Helius software can run at faster transmission speeds, is more secure, and supports additional platforms including Windows, Macintosh, Unix, Linux, and OS/2.

The Socks5 protocol, originally a security protocol that makes firewalls and other security products easier to administer, was recently approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force. The protocol was developed in collaboration Aventail, which is marketing the technology outside of Asia.

This week, NEC USA also posted a Socks5 Toolkit to its Web site. The toolkit facilitates network administration, monitoring, detection and alarm, logons, and usage analysis for Internet and intranets. The toolkit also implements strong user authentication.