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Pegasus Intros 2-Way Broadband

New York — Executives from satellite system distributor Pegasus announced at the SBCA’s SkyForum event here that following a brief delay they have started shipping their two-way broadband satellite modem products and services.

The company also revealed that it has amended plans for other previously announced offerings and no longer plans to offer the “DirecPC Classic” broadband downstream service that requires a dial-up return path.

The company had announced plans to offer the one-way broadband satellite modem service to present a range of broadband options and prices.

John DiDio, Pegasus senior VP, said the two-way broadband service, called Pegasus Express, was postponed several weeks from its early March launch target in order to finalize registration/certification software.

The company reports that it has “a little over 1,000 independent dealers signed up today to sell broadband service” and 3,500 signed up for DirecTV video service. The company said it “continues to sign up dealers for broadband at the rate of a couple hundred a week.”

Negotiations continue “with several national and regional retail partners and we expect to make announcement within the next two weeks,” DiDio said.

Still, DiDio said the task of landing major retail accounts has had its challenges. Formerly in its television-based DirecTV offering, the company was restricted by zip code to serve customers residing primarily in rural areas of the country. But the broadband offering enabled the distributor to open its doors to rest of the country.

“All the nationals are focused on the category and almost without exclusion everyone is hustling to develop or has already developed a broadband strategy,” DiDio said.

Meanwhile, Pegasus completed training and certification of “a little over 2,000 installers. We continue to conduct so that by early summer we should between 3,500 and 4,000 certified installers.” Installation agreements state that the “installer isn’t paid until the customer is provisioned and their PC is hot,” meaning installers must be able to tackle the challenges of integrating the Pegasus Express software with the user’s PC system, whatever that may include.

DiDio said Pegasus expects to add between 50,000 and 100,000 Pegasus Express customers by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Pegasus is now beta testing its TV-centric Internet terminal (Pegasus ITV) in a couple of hundred homes in the Jackson, Miss., market. The terminal uses a dial-up ISP.

However, difficulties in aligning a network of local ISP services played a part in Pegasus’ decision to drop plans to market the “DirecPC Classic” one-way broadband service, DiDio said. Additionally, he said, at CES “we thought the development track of the two-way service was going to take another quarter or two to get out there but it came together faster than we thought.

“We looked at it and decided that [the dial-up broadband satellite modem] was really transitional technology,” DiDio said. “The high-speed return path is equally important to the customer, so rather than bifurcate our effort we decided [in February] to concentrate our effort on where the customers are going.”