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Hybrid Satellite-Cell Networks Under Development

Systems will combine cellular networks and satellite transmission for what vendors claim will be inexpensive but wide-ranging access.
At least two companies are working on hybrid systems that combine satellite communications with cellular networks have said recently that they are pushing forward with their efforts.

One company, Mobile Satellite Ventures, (MSV) said Monday that it has acquired a portfolio of patents from Celsat, Inc. that covers key elements of the hybrid systems. The portfolio includes 13 existing patents and two that are pending.

MSV described itself in a statement as "developing the next generation hybrid wireless network that will use a powerful satellite constellation working in unison with MSV's patented ancillary terrestrial component technology to deliver seamless wireless services to end-users over standard wireless devices."

Another company, TerreStar Networks, announced earlier this month that it was developing a satellite that will combine cellular networks and satellite technology. According to the company's Web site, it has started construction of a unique satellite that will communicate directly with cellular systems.

In a statement, the company said it will "deploy a hybrid network that will provide high quality, cost-effective, seamless wireless services to urban, rural and remote regions of North America."

The company said it is working with Space Systems/Loral to develop the satellite, which it is calling TerreStar-1, and has an option for construction of a second satellite. The system will be operational by the end of 2008, the company said.

The system will provide both voice and data access, according to the company. According to the company's Web site, the system, "will be interconnected with the public switched telephone network (PSTN), public switched data networks (PSDN), the Internet, cellular mobile and personal communication service (PCS) networks."

"TerreStar-1 will provide innovative, cost-effective wireless services to consumers throughout North America," Wharton B. Rivers Jr., TerreStar's president and CEO, said in a statement.