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EarthLink said today that SK Telecom would invest up to $270 million in Helio, their wireless voice and data services joint venture. Earthlink is reducing its investment in the joint venture.

Helio expects to end the year with between 200,000 and 250,000 subscribers and a full-year net loss of $340 million to $360 million, EarthLink said in a statement. SK Telecom may take on a larger share of the venture, currently split 50-50.

Headed by Sky Dayton, the founder of EarthLink, the SK-EarthLink partnership operates as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, subleasing cellular spectrum on Sprint. Several MVNOs, including Amp’d Mobile and Disney’s ESPN Mobile, have shut down or been relaunched under new business models although Qwest Wireless and Virgin Mobile are still going strong.

SK Telecom also knows a thing or two about WiBro. Both Korea Telecom (KT), the No. 1 fixed-line carrier in Korea, and SK Telecom, the biggest cellular carrier in the country, have Mobile WiMAX (WiBro) licenses in South Korea.

Korea’s SK Telecom and Japan’s JSAT share an international outlook and linkage through Hawaiian earth stations.

SK Telecom built the world’s first satellite for Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) with SK Telecom granting the rights to its satellite DBS service to TU Media Corp, one of its affiliates. On May 1, 2005, TU Media began to provide satellite DMB services direct to handheld devices in South Korea.

JSAT’s Horizons-1 and Horizons-2 blanket the United States. The Ku-band payload of Horizons-1, at 127 degrees West, covers North America and Hawaii. Together with the C-band transponders of JCSAT-2A (over Japan), it could create a seamless network from the U.S. East Coast to Asia and Oceania.

The Horizons-2 satellite, at 74 degrees West Longitude over the United States, carries 20 active high-power Ku-band transponders. It is a joint venture between PanAmSat (now Intelsat) and JSAT Corporation in Tokyo. It may be a temptation to tie it all together.

SK Telecom’s domestic TU Media satellite broadcasts in South Korea provide 14 video and 22 audio channels, while JSAT’s Mobile Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) uses a a Loral satellite to delivers audio, MPEG-4 video, and data direct to mobile users throughout Japan.

Their MBSAT satellite has a 12-meter parabolic antenna with sufficient output power to enable signal reception on the ground by small antennas embedded in mobile gear. The hybrid broadcasting system handles direct reception and includes gap-fillers that enable reception in the shadow of buildings. Both direct reception and signals relayed by gap-fillers use the same 2.6-GHz frequency.

But that frequency band is not available in the US — it’s used by Sirius and XM satellite radio.

Meanwhile, Craig McCaw’s ICO and MSV plan to combine Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) with terrestrial repeaters (ATC). McCaw’s ICO plans to use DVB-SH (below) to provide Mobile TV in the United States.

McCaw plans to combine Clearwire Mobile WiMAX (at 2.5 GHz) and use ICO’s MSS frequencies for Mobile TV (at 2.1 GHz). Sprint also needs a mobile TV play for their Mobile WiMAX service — ICO or Mobile Satellite Ventures could be their ticket.

MSV is teaming with Nortel for mobile WiMAX. Their trial will be conducted around Reston, Virginia (Sprint’s home base) and will feature high-speed wireless voice, data and Web access using PC Cards. But then, TerreStar says it is planning I-HSPA for Satphones.

Nortel demoed a MIMO base station at 3GSM this February. It connected a dual band smart phone from LG Electronics (using Sequan’s chipset); data cards from Kyocera Wireless and ZyXEL (using Runcom’s chipset); and Intel-based devices.

SK Telecom has pioneered both satellite-delivered Mobile TV and Mobile WiMAX in South Korea.

Together with Sprint or Clearwire, they could make beautiful music.

Related DailyWireless stories include; Earthlink Restructures, MuniFi Holds Breath, MuniFi: Not Dead Yet, ICO Wants Its Mobile TV – via DVB-SH, Global Mobile Television, DirecTV to Mobile?, and East Meets West Satellite.

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