Internet Service Provider

StarBand Communications, McLean, Va.

With its two-way, high-speed internet access, StarBand Communications was chosen as the most innovative ISP for its ability to deliver broadband to a mass audience, much of which is unable to get cable modem or DSL.

"I love the satellite approach," Heckart says. "I think we need to continue to push the envelope on innovative access solutions of all types to get the industry healthy and growing again. Everyone has said that interactive high-speed over satellite wouldnt make it, but these guys and Sprint seem to be proving conventional wisdom wrong."

StarBand — led by CEO Zur Feldman and backed by EchoStar Communications, Gilat Satellite Networks and Microsoft — uses a single satellite dish for sending and receiving information. Because it doesnt depend on a phone line for upstream communications, it can provide the always-on, high-speed access that makes broadband so appealing. StarBand reaches all 48 contiguous states and Alaska, and the company plans to extend service to Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Also on tap: multicast services that let subscribers direct their PCs to receive multiple channels of high-quality content.

"I liked the fact that StarBand is not only offering high-speed access, but also developing the services that help take advantage of the broadband connection," Mendyk says.

Others receiving votes: NaviPath, NetValve

Previous winners: iBasis (2000), Concentric Network (1999, 1998)