Reston Firm Launches Satellite for Mobile Services
Reston-based ICO Global Communications is today launching the satellite that, the firm hopes, will allow it to offer mobile media services.
You can watch the launch here as it lifts off from Cape Canaveral between 4:12 and 5:12 p.m.
In a phone call a few minutes ago, ICO chief executive Tim Bryan told me it is the largest commercial satellite ever launched. It will hover above the equator at the same longitude as St. Louis for optimal coverage of North America.
Once the satellite has passed all the necessary tests, ICO will begin a trial run of its Mobile Interactive Media platform, also knows as mim. The company wants to provide a dozen or so channels of television content to mobile devices and TV's installed in cars. The satellite, which provides two-way communication, will help power interactive services, such as navigation tools and road-side assistance. The first trials will begin in Las Vegas and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., starting this summer. Once the kinks have been worked out, ICO hopes to widen the service to more regions of the U.S. in the second half of 2009. It currently has a content deal with NBC Universal.
Bryan said the service is different from other mobile TV offerings because the satellite provides coverage even in the most remote parts of the country, where terrestrial cellphone networks aren't as robust. I got a demo of the service in Las Vegas in January at the Consumer Electronics Show. You can check out the video here.
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