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Executive Summary

RITE AID WILL AIR VENDOR ADS ON GTE SPACENET SATELLITE NETWORK and is planning other ways to take advantage of its new information system, the drug store chain said. The Skystar Digital Television Service will be used in conjunction with the Skystar Advantage two- way satellite data network to "bring our 31,000 employees, spread across 23 states, closer together." GTE Spacenet's business television service will be used for training, transmitting corporate messages and broadcasting management meetings. The six-year contract between Rite Aid and GTE Spacenet for the satellite network, announced by GTE Spacenet on Nov. 12, is valued at more than $15 mil. Rite Aid is the first retail customer for the Skystar Advantage service. Implementation of the satellite network began in November and will proceed region by region until completion, which is expected by the end of 1993. GTE Spacenet will install Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) at each of the drug store chain's 2,545 outlets. Unlike terrestrial networks, GTE points out, a satellite network is "distance insensitive." It is no more difficult or costly to hook up a rural drug store than one in a more heavily-populated area. Each store will have a small satellite dish; therefore, there will be no need to run data lines out to less-developed areas. A central host computer will be installed near Rite Aid's headquarters in Harrisburg, Penn. The VSAT network will support Rite Aid's point-of-sale applications, which include register scanning, credit/debit card authorization and automatic inventory replenishment, as well as its on-line pharmacy applications. On-line applications will include access for all stores to shared patient, drug and pricing information, as well as third-party insurance approvals. Rite Aid pharmacies will be switching from a personal computer-based system to the host-based, on-line system. What Rite Aid stands to gain with VSAT technology, President Martin Grass said, is "faster response time, greater network availability, and...communication costs [being driven] down."

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