Lex Luther Pinned His Hopes on Crime; Murdoch on Wi-Fi

04 August 2006

Superman's deadly adversary pinned his hopes of world domination on criminal supremacy. The chairman/ceo of News Corporation aims to achieve the same end via Wi-Fi.

Rupert Murdoch, the most politically powerful media magnate in world history, plans to harness DirecTV - the satellite operation in which he acquired a controlling 34% stake in 2003 [WAMN: 03-Dec-03] - to achieve US Wi-Fi coverage coast-to-coast.

NewsCorp, controlled by the Murdoch family via a 29.5% minority interest, is set to approve a project that will take at least two years and $2 billion (€1.56bn; £1.06bn) to reach fruition.

It involves the creation of a nationwide broadband loop enabling interactive wireless contact with consumers to directly sell entertainment content, advertising, goods, services - likely, even, the magnate's rightist political philosophy.

WiMax, as the project is branded, is not a 'go it alone' venture. Its sheer size and daunting technological challenge rules that out.

An acronym for 'World Interoperability for Microwave Access', WiMax is a wireless broadband technology with a transmitter range of around thirty miles compared with the mile or so achieved by present WiFi services.

NewsCorp and DirecTV are reportedly in advanced talks with Clearwire Corporation, a venture in which chipmaker Intel and equipment manufacturer Motorola recently invested $900 million.

Says Murdoch: "If we can pull something off . . . there is no reason why that shouldn't link in with everything. I would expect to have wireless broadband advanced in at least two or three cities before the end of this year, and then it might take two or three years to build it out across the entire country."

Moreover, "Today America, tomorrow the world" is not a fanciful battle cry. Once established, NewsCorp's WiMax network could connect with its global satellite operations, among them BSkyB in the UK, StarTV in Asia and the Murdoch family's broadcast interests in mainland China.

Data sourced from Hollywood Reporter (USA); additional content by WARC staff