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January 6, 2002
Out-of-this-world idea for telecommunicationBy MICHAEL IACUESSA
SOQUEL — Clive Boustred believes the future of the Internet is in space.
The Soquel resident and chief executive officer of InfoTelesys is constructing an ultra-high speed Internet utilizing satellite technology. The infrastructure will be 1,000 times faster than broadband DSL, cable and current satellite options. That will allow integration with DVD, HDTV, radio, computers, video cameras and CD players.
"Everyone said they can do video over the Internet, and the truth is they can," said Boustred, who once was a senior technical strategist for architecture and manufacturing with Sun Microsystems.
But the process is slow and not likely to improve to the level consumers will expect.
Transmitting DVD-quality video via the Internet requires 6 mbps (megabytes per second). Multiplied by 52 million families in the United States, it becomes obvious the limitations the Internet has. In fact, a recent study discovered that if all the Net bandwidth available in New York City were put toward serving DVD content to customers, only 25,000 could be served adequately. Compounding the problem, 71 countries tap into that Net bandwidth.
"The virtual world is still separated by time, space and velocity," said Boustred. "The more successful the Internet becomes, the more problems you have."
Boustred said most Internet content providers believe they can get around the bandwidth issues by compressing video. However, he said that technique involves throwing pixels out in the background of the video, limiting the scope of the picture — not to mention the quality.
He is quick to say that the average person still spends eight times as much time watching television as surfing the Internet.
"The ability to increase the speed of the Web is not possible," he said, at least not at the rate to compete with DVD or incoming HDTV, which requires 18 to 24 mbps.
To access some sites on the Net now, it is not uncommon to have to go through a dozen routers. To increase bandwidth, it must be increased at every router. InfoTelesys’ IT-12 network for homes and businesses will be able to operate at 200 mbps and one gbps (gigabyte per second). Its systems will be able to scale into the "exabit" data flow rate.
How fast is that? "Exabit" has 18 zeros after it.
"With a single hop, we can hit millions of recipients," said Boustred. "We’ll only have a single hop to get to clients. We won’t have all those routers."
Boustred’s dream is that IT-12 will be beamed to homes via a flat panel resembling an aircraft food tray on someone’s roof. The signal will be routed through an IT server in the home. Users will merely have to plug in the equipment, turn it on and point and click.
Users also will be able to watch any program whenever they want from any starting point.
He also believes the result will be the creation of a brand new media, one that is truly interactive where producers of movies will construct multiple endings and viewers can chose the paths of the on-screen characters.
"Most media companies now see technology as a barrier. They don’t see it as a tool," said Boustred.
He believes those that do are primed for the future. Many will be the artists themselves, able to circumvent publishers, movie studios and record labels.
"We’re building a company, which can compete with billion-dollar organizations out of the home," he said.
InfoTelesys plans to create franchising opportunities as well, allowing individuals to be their own Internet service provider. The provider can be a central broadcast and Internet reception unit.
InfoTelesys, which is based in Boustred’s large home in the Soquel hills, so far has struggled to attract venture capital. At one time the firm even negotiated with the Russians to purchase the Mir Space Station for its satellites but could not raise the $70 million asking price.
Boustred, however, maintains that his firm will succeed without outside funding if it has to. After all, with satellites its market footprint is the entire planet.
He likens the situation to when Alexander Graham Bell was told by Western Union that people would never do business over the telephone.
InfoTelesys has built and deployed the different elements that make up IT-12.
Its first product, however, Get IT Real, is a modest attempt compared to the company’s overall vision. Get IT Real, which will be released early this year, will provide a multiple video listing service for real estate agents to sell homes.
Viewers will be able to tour the home on video, making open houses less necessary.
Subsequent Get IT products will be more entertainment related, Boustred said.
After the products are marketed worldwide, the company’s second stage will involve InfoTelesys launching its own satellites.