AT&T Will Buy Majority Of Shares In Earth Stations
BASKING RIDGE, N.J. (AP) _ American Telephone & Telegraph Co. has reached an agreement with Communications Satellite Corp. to buy that company’s majority ownership of three U.S. earth stations, AT&T officials announced Wednesday.
The price of the purchase, which still needs approval by the Federal Communications Commission, was estimated to be $55 million.
″This agreement will give AT&T direct control of the high-quality earth stations we currently use to transmit telecommunications services around the world,″ said Richard K. Jacobsen, a vice president at AT&T Communications, which is based here.
AT&T currently owns 47.5 percent of the three stations, located in Roaring Creek, Pa., Etam, W. Va., and Jamesburg, Calif. Under the agreement, AT&T will purchase Comsat’s 50 percent shares in each of the three stations. The remaining 2.5 percent are held by Western Union International and RCA Corp.
All four corporations belong to the Earth Station Ownership Consortium which owns the earth stations.
Currently, they are operated by Comsat. AT&T leases the facilities, but will take over operations of the three stations on Jan. 1, 1988.
″Hopefully, we will be able to save some money,″ said Rick Brayall, a spokesman for AT&T.
The stations are used to transmit voice, television and radio signals to satellites, which then send the data to other earth stations. Jacobsen said that about 60 percent of all of AT&T’s international traffic is relayed by satellite circuits from the stations.
″Whenever you have to send anything from the United States, they have to go out of those earth stations,″ Brayall said.
The purchase agreement was permitted under a 1984 FCC ruling that permits companies other than Comsat to own and operate the stations.
AT&T will continue to lease the satellite portions of international circuits from Comsat.
The earth stations in Roaring Creek and Etam provide carriers in the United States with access to Atlantic Ocean satellites owned and operated by the International Telecommunications Organization.
Intelsat is a group of 109 nations responsible for international satellite communications.
The Jamesburg facility provides direct connections to Pacific Ocean satellites owned and operated by Intelsat.
There are seven earth stations in the United States and Guam, all owned by the Earth Station Ownership Consortium. The four not involved in the purchase agreement are in Washington, Maine, Hawaii and Guam, said a spokeswoman for Comsat who would not give her name.
She said the facilities in Washington and Maine would be phased out by the end of next year because of a lack of use and their distance from urban centers.