Telesat, Ford Sign Broadband Services Deal

Telesat Canada and Ford Motor Company announced a multimillion-dollar satellite-based program Monday that will provide high-speed intranet and Internet services to Ford Motor dealerships across North America.

Ottawa-based Telesat, along with project partners IBM Corp. and Hughes Network Systems, will immediately provide broadcast and broadband services to an estimated 2,000 Ford Motor Company’s Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealers across Canada, U.S., and Mexico. The solution is now available in Ford dealerships and will enable dealers to transmit large data files using high-speed Internet and ensures secure access to the corporate intranet, according to Telesat.

Up until this point, Ford dealers had been going off on their own and finding local ISP services for general Internet, said Steve Lowe, North American director for business solutions at Telesat.

Ford was looking for a way to have a common North American broadband platform across its entire dealer base and Telesat’s satellite solution has an advantage in the simplicity of the network design, Lowe said.

“It’s a pure broadband satellite-based system – there is no terrestrial component other than the back-haul network at their host,” Lowe said.

“It’s the ubiquitous service offering – it doesn’t matter if they’re near a central office or cable company, anywhere within North America they can have the same level of service. They’re getting superior performance because of the speed of the service. For this scale, to be able to deploy a broadband solution to this number of locations, there really isn’t another solution that would have the same cost benefits. When you are a large corporation that has thousands of point of presence, you like to be able to manage that.”

Larger organizations are constantly seeking low-cost solutions for complex, high-bandwidth communications needs, noted Mark Quigley, telecom analyst for the Yankee Group in Toronto.

“We are seeing more and more companies gravitating toward Internet/intranet-based solutions,” Quigley said. “As with everything it’s always more for less – (companies are) looking for much more bandwidth to provide those services as the applications tend to get more complicated as we go forward.”

In light of the terrorist events in New York City, companies are going to look toward redundant pathways so that they are not entirely dependent on one provider or on one mode of moving information, Quigley said.

“For a company like Telesat, it does provide a service that is not wireline-based,” Quigley noted. “There becomes considerable value added in that all of a sudden there is possibility of a redundant network being set up that is not dependent on traditional infrastructure – and can’t be affected in the same way infrastructure was affected on the 11th of September.”

Telesat in Ottawa is at