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Eutelsat Preps EU Residential Satellite Broadband

Posted: 04th Sep, 2007 By: MarkJ
Satellite operators Eutelsat Communications and Viasat have teamed up to revive European satellite broadband services by launching a cheaper and more flexible product aimed at residential consumers.

However Eutelsat are likely to face an uphill struggle with satellite having been all but pushed out of the wider consumer markets by cheaper and more flexible rival fixed-line (ADSL etc.) alternatives.

The service, known as Tooway, will initially launch in Germany before being offered to other EU states. It has been designed to target rural areas that suffer from poor broadband coverage:

Tooway™ will be provided via Ka-band capacity on Eutelsat’s HOT BIRD™ 6 satellite at 13 degrees East and will also be available via Ku-band capacity on the EUROBIRD™ 3 satellite. The Ka and Ku-band hubs with equipment supplied by ViaSat to manage Tooway™ are now fully commissioned and ready for service at Skylogic’s SkyPark teleport in Turin, Italy.

Three different service grades will be provided in Ka-band and Ku-band with the initial offer delivering maximum downlink speeds of up to 2048 kbps and maximum uplink speeds of up to 384 kbps. Consumer tariffs and hardware prices will be defined by local service providers partnering in the distribution of the Tooway(TM) service.

The compact Tooway™ consumer satellite terminal comprises an Outdoor Unit (ODU) and an Indoor Un it (IDU) or modem that interfaces to a PC or home network via a standard Ethernet connection (10/100 Mbps). The ODU consists of a 67cm Ka-band dish or a 96cm Ku-band dish. The Ku-band ODU includes a Low Noise Block (LNB) converter with linear polarisation able to receive at speeds up to 4 Mbps. It is also equipped with a powerful 2 Watt amplifier for transmission to the satellite by the consumer at speeds exceeding 1 Mbps. In Ka-band, both the LNB and amplifier are integrated in a high-tech transceiver.

The Tooway™ service can be combined with Ku-band DTH reception from Eutelsat’s HOT BIRD™ video neighbourhood at 13º East. In 2010 Eutelsat expects to extend its Tooway™ service offering in partnership with ViaSat by deploying a new, high capacity dedicated Ka-band satellite to 13 º East with multiple spotbeams across Europe. It is anticipated that the new satellite will enable much higher speed services.

To date there have been no truly consumer affordable and flexible two-way satellite broadband services, with most costing at least £50 to £60 per month. It’s hard to see how Eutelsat could compete in the modern super-cheap fixed-line climate, especially where areas without broadband cover have become increasingly rare.

Still, isolated locations do exist and anything that makes broadband access cheaper and more accessible for them should not be ignored.
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