inmarsatRemember satellite phones? They were supposed to revolutionize telecommunications, with always available, global access. Well, they're still around, but the market is a fraction of what was once projected, as sat-phones were overtaken by cheaper cellphones that are good enough for most customers. Now it looks like we're about to hit another round of satellite hype, as some of the same companies involved in the sat-phone bubble roll out satellite broadband services. The latest is Inmarsat, which will launch two satellites as part of its planned Broadband Global Area Network, which the company hopes to roll out next year. The service will allow customers to connect from just about anywhere, using a portable terminal. The $1.5 billion system will offer speeds of up to 492 Kbps, according to the company, and will rely on spot beams targeting specific regions. We're still a little dubious, given some of the random problems like weather issues that have affected previous satellite systems, but we're willing to give it a try; it can't be any worse than using our EDGE/GPRS phone as a modem.

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Inmarset launching satellite broadband initiative