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Company, Allegheny said close to land deal

November 13, 2002|By JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - An international satellite communications company has an agreement-in-principle to buy land at Allegheny Energy's Friendship Technology Park to provide ground support for its satellite network, officials said Tuesday.

Spokespersons for Allegheny Energy and Intelsat Global Service Corp. in Washington, D.C., would not release details about the company's plans because the agreement is not final.

"The sale of the property has not been completed. Until it's closed, it would be premature to comment further," Allegheny spokesman Guy Fletcher said.

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Intelsat Global Service spokeswoman Allison Scuriatti said she didn't think the deal would be closed for a number of weeks.

"This is a big-name telecommunications company," said Tim Troxell, acting executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission. "This can be that first big win for Washington County to bring higher-wage jobs."

Just the possibility of Intelsat Global Service becoming the first client at Friendship Technology Park "kind of breaks the ice and we hope that there will be many more to follow," Troxell said.

Troxell said his office has been working on luring Intelsat Global Service here for more than two years. He would not say whether the company was offered any incentives by local or state government.

Allegheny officials have targeted high-tech companies for the business park, Fletcher said.

Washington County Planning Director Bob Arch said a site plan for the telecommunications center could be submitted by early next week, allowing the matter to be heard by the Washington County Planning Commission at its Dec. 2 meeting.

Arch said he was not aware of any zoning issues that would require a hearing.

The group expected to submit the site plan is Mountainside Teleport Corp., a subsidiary of Intelsat Global Service Corp. Intelsat Global Service is a subsidiary of Intelsat Limited, which is headquartered in Bermuda, Scuriatti said.

Intelsat Global Service officials decided last year to expand its ground facilities, and it made sense to look in the Washington area, Scuriatti said. Intelsat Global Service's Washington office has 800 employees, she said.

Scuriatti would not say how many employees a ground telecommunications center in Washington County would have, but said the Riverside, Calif., ground facility has six or seven employees.

Not all ground telecommunications centers are the same, she said.

Scuriatti did say a local facility would not have hundreds of employees.

Scuriatti and Fletcher also wouldn't say how many acres the company wants to buy.

Arch said the land is on the east side of Downsville Pike near Allegheny Energy's headquarters.

Intelsat provides global communications for telecommunications carriers, broadcasters, global finance companies and other corporations that do business around the world, according to its Web site at www.intelsat.com.

Intelsat has customers in more than 200 countries and territories, Scuriatti said. Customers include AT&T, France Telecom, British Telecommunications, Internet service providers and television broadcasters.

In April, Intelsat helped the "Today" show broadcast from the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, according to its Web site.

Intelsat Global Service helps businesses communicate by transmitting voice, data, Internet and video information along fiberoptic lines to a teleport, which is a ground center of antennas or satellite dishes, Scuriatti said. The teleport beams the information to a satellite orbiting Earth. Then the satellite beams the information down to another teleport so information can be transmitted around the world.

Intelsat Global Service has approximately 25 satellites in service, she said.

If the deal closes, the technology park south of Hagerstown would have antennas, which are satellite dishes, Scuriatti said. She would not elaborate on their size, number or what else the company would build there.

Since there is just a field there now, Scuriatti said a ground facility would be built in stages. She could not say how long it would take.

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