News that the Soviet Union is considering joining the International Telecommunications Satellite group reflects that country's desire for tangible links with the entrepreneurial West. During a meeting last month of the Intelsat board of governors, its director, Dean Burch, said Intelsat has met several times with Soviet representatives and was awaiting an official Soviet request to join.
Observers speculate that the Soviets might even like to merge their Intersputnik satellite system with Intelsat, but that would take complicated negotiations. There are technical as well as financial roadblocks to be hurdled. As members of the International Telecommunications Union, however, the Soviets could join Intelsat immediately.
The Soviets want to join Intelsat because their domestic phones cannot handle international traffic. To attract the kind of foreign investment they want, the Soviets must offer improved communications. Intelsat could provide a quick fix, installing Earth stations in Moscow and other cities.