Around the world in 6 pounds

Government users of heavy satellite telephone terminals can switch to notebook-sized
phones that communicate via spot beam to Comsat Personal Communications Corp.'s new
Inmarsat-3 satellites.

 The Bethesda, Md., company's satellites focus their power better with spot beam
signals, so the portable terminals can be smaller, said Wayne "D" D'Ambrosio,
director of government sales. "This is a follow-on to technology that the government
is already using," D'Ambrosio said. 

Comsat's Planet 1 service over the In-marsat-3 satellites doesn't come cheap. The 6-pound
phones cost about $3,000 each, and service is $3 per minute. Earlier phones cost about
$14,000 each and weigh twice as much.

 Federal users bought 13 of the new terminals after Comsat announced commercial
availability in January. Most of Comsat's federal users are in the Defense and State
departments and in intelligence agencies. D'Ambrosio said a Secure Telephone Unit for
Planet 1 becomes available in March. 


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