Comsat General Inc. and Timeplex Inc. announced last week that they have formed a joint venture to transform a couple of used satellites and the remains of a bankrupt company into a nationwide telecommunications company.
The venture is called Safecom. Its purpose is to offer low-cost data and voice telecommunications service to selected cities through a combination of satellite and ground transmissions.
"We are bringing together assets -- the satellites and the ground stations -- that separately had limited value and were bought for a fraction of their original cost, but that together have compelling value," said Edward Botwinick, president of Timeplex.
"It is an opportunistic venture. We are not in the telephone business, they are not in the satellite business," said Richard McGraw, vice president of corporate affairs for Comsat.
Comsat, a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington's Communications Satellite Corp., is in the business of telecommunications. Timeplex, of Woodcliff Lake, N.J., provides data and voice communication networks to more than 2,500 companies worldwide.
Earlier this year, both companies were looking at nine earth stations being sold by bankrupt Argo Communications. Timeplex bought the stations -- in New York, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle -- for $3 million.
In the meantime, Comsat suggested using two of its fully depreciated satellites in conjunction with the stations.
"The key to Safecom's success is the satellites, which are virtually free," McGraw said.
The two satellites were designed to work seven or eight years. "After that, they lose their fuel and tend to drift out of their orbital space.
"Even though the fuel runs out, the electronics equipment still works on these satellites. Comsat determined a way, called the Comsat Manuever, to make the satellites live seven years longer. We allow the satellites to drift and track their north-south movements, tilting them while they move so the satellite transmission hits the right spot," McGraw said.
Safecom is the first commercial application of the Comsat Manuever. Intelsat, an international communications systems operated by representatives from member nations has used the same manuever on some of its satellites. Comsat represents the U.S. interests in Intelsat.
"Our investment is only these two fully depreciated satellites, so this venture is no financial risk," McGraw said. Under terms of the joint venture, Comsat owns 49 percent of Safecom and Timeplex owns 51 percent.
Ben Ryan is moving from Timeplex to become general manager of Safecom, which expects to open its doors in Rochelle Park, N.J., by the first of the year. He will report to Vicki Brown, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Timeplex. The company will act as a separate corporation, not as a subsidiary of Timeplex, according to Tony Squeqlia, director of corporate communications at Timeplex.
"We won't be any different than MCI, Sprint, and AT&T," said Squeqlia.
"But we will offer those services at up to 75 percent less than our competitors. For example, a monthly link up with the West Coast will cost about $12,000. Our competitors charge about $42,000 for the same service," Squeqlia said.
Squeqlia said he expects most of Safecom's customers to be Timeplex clients that are looking for a backup to private ground communication networks. "This service is attractive for those firms that are price sensitive and could not afford satellite transmission before," Squeqlia said.
What happens when the satellites are spent in seven years? "Who knows what technology will bring? We might have an orbiting space station, we might be able to go up and replace the batteries. We might be able to develop a battery that just doesn't run down. Something will come through," said Rick Wasser, communications manager for Comsat.
Figgie International Inc. of Richmond has acquired Titan Protection Services Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., for an undisclosed amount.
Titan is a security firm, with a staff of 300 security officers, that protects several high-technology companies in the Silicon Valley. It will now operate as a unit of Advance Security, a Figgie International subsidiary based in Atlanta.
Advance is a large private security services firm that provides trained uniformed security officers, security consultations and investigative services to corporations, federal government agencies, hospitals and universities nationwide.
Tenant Liaison Centers Inc. (TLC) of Arlington has bought Navco Inc. of McLean for an undisclosed amount.
TLC guarantees tenants for developers. The company arranges phone services, transportation, day care and other services that attract tenants.
Navco designs space for clients to increase employe productivity. It has designed work space in the FBI Academy in Quantico and the learning center at the Heart House of the American College of Cardiology in Bethesda.
Navco is now part of TLC, but will continue to operate in its specialized field of educational planning. David Wilson, president of Navco, will continue in his position and serve on the board of directors of TLC.
U.S. Postal Service executives are going back to school. Through a new program, begun by Postmaster General Preston Robert Tisch, 500 field directors throughout the nation will participate in a week-long executive development program at The Fugua School of Business at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
This program "will keep our executives current on modern management practices," Tisch said.
The postal contract with Duke provides for follow-up sessions within four months. Additional training and skills audits will be available later in the program.
Hay Systems Inc. in the District has been awarded a contract to check on contractors for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
Under the $3 million award, Hay will "serve as an honest broker" for the Army's Manprint initiative, said Cathie Bennett, director of corporate development for Hay Systems. Manprint requires all prime contractors to design weapons that soldiers can operate without great difficulty. Hay Systems has a computer-based model that calculates the human and equipment cost of proposed weapons systems.
Hay Systems specializes in forecasting human resource requirements for new systems being developed by government and industry.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Co., the last principal rail subsidiary of CSX Transportation Inc., has been merged into the parent firm.
The C&O dates back to the Louisa Railroad, chartered in 1836. The C&O acquired control of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co. in 1963, forming the Chessie System. In 1980, Chessie System joined with the Seaboard Coast Line Industries Inc. to form CSX Corp.
CSX reorganized into three groups last year: CSX Distribution Services, CSX Equipment and CSX Rail Transport. The C&O/CSX Transportation merger does not change that organization.
A computerized method to predict the hazards of fire is being issued for trial use by researchers at the Commerce Department's National Bureau of Standards.
The system, called Hazard I, calculates the development of a fire in a small house on a computer. It figures out the amount of gas and smoke occupants will be exposed to and the likely actions of occupants, based on interviews with people who have escaped fires.
Unlike some other systems, Hazard I takes into account a combination of physics, chemistry, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, biology, toxicology and human behavior, all of which influence the outcome of a fire.
"The bottom line is determining who would die, where and why, so that alternative strategies can be designed," said Richard Bukowski, head of hazard analysis at NBS.
Systems such as Hazard I are designed to complement existing building codes and standards by enabling new materials and technology to be evaluated safely and quickly, according to NBS.
Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) was awarded a $343 million, 9 1/2-year contract with the Army to install and manage the hardware and software for its personnel computer system. Most of the contract work will be done by the Government Systems Group of EDS, based in Springfield.
EDS will be responsible for the operation of the personnel computer at several Army bases, including those in Fort Mead, Alexandria, Arlington and Springfield.
This contract follows several other EDS contracts with the Navy, including a $656 million pact to build five data centers in 1982 and a $28 million contract to automate the Army's recruiting system in 1984.
ORI/Calculon Corp., a subsidiary of Atlantic Research Corp., has won a $4.4 million contract from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to automate staff functions and programs.
Under the contract, Calculon will create computerized business and tracking systems for fair housing and government mortgage projects. The system will also conduct complex statistical analyses for housing studies.
Calculon has had several contracts with HUD since 1980. This contract has a base period of 18 months, with an 18-month option period.