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Pegasus Paves Way To Broadband Future

NEW YORK -Pegasus Communications became the next in a series of Hughes Network Systems distribution partners to officially announce launch plans for its two-way broadband satellite service using Hughes’ Satellite Return equipment and satellites.

Pegasus, which will market the service under the Pegasus Express label, joins AOL, EarthLink and Juno in formally announcing plans for a first-half rollout of two-way broadband satellite services as a Powered By DirecPC distributor and Internet service provider.

Pegasus is also planning to launch this month a dial-up TV-centric terminal, called iTV, in a limited rollout starting with Jackson, Miss., and continuing into Scronto and Portland, Maine, markets where Pegasus operates TV stations.

The Pegasus iTV product will be similar in function and benefit to WebTV but is expected to offer local-access numbers to rural users who typically don’t have them with such ISPs as WebTV or AOL-TV.

The iTV hardware includes an Acer-made set-top box powered by an ARM 50 MIPs processor and 8MB of RAM and ROM memory. It will carry a $200 suggested retail.

Pegasus, which is working with Genuity on deploying the dial-up access network, will eventually add HNS’ DirecPC dial-up broadband satellite system to complete its assortment. Pegasus originally planned to start with the one-way broadband satellite system, but postponed that plan until it could offer its rural territories better coverage of local dial-up access numbers.

Chris Walczak, Pegasus product development VP, said that although the deal with HNS allows Pegasus to distribute the products outside its core rural market territories, Pegasus expects early subscribers to be heavy Internet users who currently are without access to cable or DSL modem services.

Additionally, Pegasus said it plans to market later in the year a TV-centric dial-up Internet access terminal that is similar in function to Microsoft’s WebTV.

Hughes Network Systems is turning over some of retail distribution of DirecPC equipment and service to its Powered By partners, although HNS national accounts marketing director Sam Baumel said the company will continue to serve major accounts such as Best Buy.

Circuit City, meanwhile, announced a distribution relationship with AOL that is expected to eventually include the two-way broadband satellite offering as a Powered-By ISP partner in the chain.

Walczak said Pegasus would continue working with its network of satellite dealers, as well as many regional and independent electronics and computer dealers.

The Pegasus Express Powered By DirecPC system will include a 26-inch elliptical dish and twin satellite modems wired together and connected to a PC via a USB port. Hardware will be priced at $499 suggested retail.

Pegasus will offer the two-way service for $69 per month, or $59 when bundled with one of its DirecTV subscriptions.