NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Entering what could be the next frontier in multimedia services, a venture led by Lockheed Martin said Thursday it's building a global satellite system that will offer Internet access and data networks starting in 2003.
The $3.6 billion venture called Astrolink pits the aerospace firm against Hughes Electronics Corp., which in March announced plans to construct a global broadband satellite network.
Astrolink will focus on the high-growth area of broadband data services, carrying traffic for Internet, intranet, multimedia and corporate data. Lockheed said global broadband services could deliver sales of nearly $200 billion in 2005.
Lookhead Martin's (LMT) global telecommunications group will fund $400 million of the project. Telecom Italia and TRW Inc (TI) are kicking in $250 million apiece.
Each of these founding partners gets a minority stake in the Lockheed venture.
Lockheed Martin shares gained 7/16 to close at 44-1/8 Wednesday. TRW closed up 3/16 at 45.