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Teledesic to launch sooner than expected

Satellite company admits it's looking at early entries to market to avoid 'Iridium Syndrome'

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Satellite-based Internet pipeline company Teledesic yesterday coughed up to charges made by the Wall Street Journal that it was "exploring early market entry strategies". Some confession. It would be surprising indeed if the $9 billion Teledesic wasn't looking at ways of getting customers on board sooner rather than later to fund the full development of the service. It would also allow it to build up a userbase in time for the opening of the complete satellite network. It's always easier to win new business if you've already got users on board, than it is gaining customers from scratch. Of course, the snag is that Teledesic might suffer from Iridium Syndrome -- failing to achieve userbase targets because the technology simply isn't ready yet or powerful enough -- but the company's co-CEO, Bill Owens, reckons that's not going to be an issue. In what's almost certainly a tacit nod towards Iridium, Owens said: "Despite current conditions in the satellite communications market, Teledesic is in an enviable position." How does Owens define 'enviable'? "We have money in the bank. We have the time necessary to evaluate opportunities created by the unfortunate difficulties of others [see what we mean?]. We have investors with long-term vision." The company's key investors, apart from Owens himself, are Bill Gates, Motorola, Boeing and Alwaleed Bin Talal, the Saudi Arabian prince noted for his keen interest in hi-tech investments. Of course, Owens hasn't said what kinds of "early market entry strategies" he's considering, but they're likely to centre on offerings like point-to-point network connections for big businesses, something to make use of the infrastructure the company has while it builds up the rest. ® Related Story Teledesic confirms Motorola support

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