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GTE TESTS GLOBAL SATELLITE-COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE WITH NORTHWEST AIRLINES AND COMSAT

 GTE TESTS GLOBAL SATELLITE-COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE
 WITH NORTHWEST AIRLINES AND COMSAT
 OAK BROOK, Ill., May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- GTE Airfone has joined with Northwest Airlines and COMSAT Aeronautical Services to test a satellite- communications system that allows passengers to make telephone calls from virtually anywhere in the world.
 Northwest, the first U.S.-based airline carrier to test such a system, recently began service on a 747-400 aircraft with routes from the United States to major cities in the Pacific Rim. Northwest will begin testing the satellite system on a second 747-400 in June.
 GTE Airfone is providing complete telephone service for the test, including cabin telephones, terrestrial avionics and satellite interface. COMSAT Aeronautical Services is providing access to the Inmarsat global satellite network through its ground earth stations in Southbury, Conn., and Santa Paula, Calif. Satellite access allows calls to be placed when the aircraft is out of range of GTE Airfone's North American ground network.
 "Satellite-based service is a key part of GTE Airfone's strategy to be a global provider of telecommunications services," said Robert C. Calafell, GTE Airfone president. "International travelers often spend hours on an aircraft, out of touch with their business associates and clients. With this new service, they can place calls whether the aircraft is over land or sea."
 "Northwest has designated 1992 as 'The Year of the Customer,' and the addition of GTE Airfone's service with satellite-transmission capabilities is a great in-flight enhancement, especially for our trans- Pacific passengers, who spend an average of more than 10 hours on an airplane," said Joseph Leonard, Northwest's executive vice president- customer service.
 Satellite Communications Serve Airline Passengers and Crews
 "This is the beginning of a new era," noted Dr. Elizabeth Young, vice president of COMSAT Aeronautical Services. "We expect to see carriers like Northwest making increased use of satellite communications to better serve their passengers and crews. We are pleased to be part of this team."
 With satellite-based service, an on-board radio transmits each call to a satellite via an antenna atop the aircraft. The satellite then routes the call to an earth station, which sends it to the telephone network, making calls possible anywhere in the world.
 With GTE Airfone's domestic service, the call is sent via radio signals to one of GTE's 109 ground stations throughout the United States and southern Canada. From the ground station, it is routed to the public telephone network.
 Northwest is using five centrally mounted, corded telephones on the two aircraft. Passengers activate the system with most major credit cards, local telephone-company calling cards or the AT&T Calling Card.
 Travelers place a satellite call much as they would a standard international call by dialing an access code (00) + Country Code + City Code + the number. Or they can dial (asterisk) 0 if they need assistance in completing an international call on the satellite network.
 Voice prompts tell users when the aircraft is out of range for terrestrial calling and satellite-based service is available.
 GTE Airfone, based in Oak Brook, provides air-to-ground public telephone service to passengers on 1,700 commercial aircraft operated by 11 U.S.-based carriers and Air Canada. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of GTE Corp., which is the fourth-largest publicly owned telecommunications company in the world.
 -0- 5/12/92
 /CONTACT: Sharon Cohen-Hagar, 708-575-1448, or after 6 p.m., 708-717-6302/
 (GTE) CO: GTE Corp. ST: Illinois IN: TLS SU:


SM -- NY027 -- 9013 05/12/92 10:06 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 12, 1992
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