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ISP Eutelsat Preps Affordable UK 2Mbps Satellite Broadband

Posted: 30th Apr, 2009 By: MarkJ
Satellite operator Eutelsat Communications has launched its new Tooway consumer broadband service in the UK, which aims to offer download speeds of up to 2Mbps (256Kbps upload) for just a fraction of the price (£29.99 +vat per month) that most two-way (download and upload) satellite ISPs offer. Furthermore, come 2010, Eutelsat's new KA-SAT satellite will also enable Tooway to offer speeds of up to 10Mbps!

Eutelsat Tooway Satellite Logo

The new satellite technology will target rural homes, and those in slowband areas, with access to 2Mbps broadband services without the need for any existing telephone line. Tooway claims it can deliver broadband for all (USO), as called for by Lord Carter in the interim Digital Britain report published earlier this year.

The service is also triple play-ready, allowing distributors to offer additional TV and IP telephony services. It will be delivered in the UK via a network of certified local distributors, including Bentley Walker Satellite Internet Solutions, Avonline (Bristol), Satellite Solutions Worldwide (Oxfordshire - aka Tariam, has had a lot of problems) and Remote Data Services (Perthshire, Scotland).

Tooway™ will help make Lord Carter’s vision for Digital Britain a reality by revolutionising the consumer market for satellite Internet access,” said Arduino Patacchini, Director of Multimedia and Value Added Services at Eutelsat.

Tooway™ is able to offer true broadband access with total independence from existing infrastructures. It has the technology and capacity to become the definitive, low-cost solution for geographical areas that are affected by the digital divide.

The new service claims to be the "first satellite two-way broadband service offering similar speeds and costs to ADSL," though in reality £29.99, while easily the cheapest two-way satellite service, is still considerably more expensive than most of its land-line counterparts. Be Broadband offers up to 8Mbps from just £13.50 per month, Sky Broadband can do a bundled 16Mbps service for an extra £10 and Virgin Media can do 10Mbps for £20.

Previously the cheapest two-way 2Mbps satellite broadband service was delivered via ASTRA's ASTRA2Connect service (satellites at 28.2°E or 19°E), though the hardware cost £299.99, there was a £50.00 connection charge and the monthly fee hit around £80; hardly a rural broadband solution but better than nothing.

Eutelsat Tooway Ku-band Satellite Dish

Tooway's new service will operate in the Ku-band and be delivered using Eutelsat’s EUROBIRD™ 3 satellite at 33º East. What the press release doesn't mention is usage restrictions and additional costs. That's not surprising because with a little digging we were able to find out that the £29.99 package referred to a BASIC option with a Fair Access Policy (FAP) of just 1.2GB per month.

Did we mention that the hardware is likely to set you back anything from £400 to £600 (depending on the supplier, from what we could tell). The installation charge could also be up to and over £200, although you could probably find a local to do it cheaper. Some suppliers may also charge an activation fee of around £20 or more.

Satellite is certainly making progress, but given the inherent high latency, massive hardware/installation costs and limited usage allowances, it's still a long way from being a true rural solution. Don't forget, many people living in such areas are also on low incomes, they need something cheaper and more flexible. Satellite’s nearest rival in this department is Mobile Broadband , which seems like a much better deal in comparison, provided you’re covered.
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