By: MarkJ - 27 December, 2010 (8:57 AM)
eutelsat ka-sat broadband uk satelliteEuropean Satellite ISP Eutelsat has confirmed that its new 6.1 tonne KA-SAT spacecraft, which will offer broadband internet speeds of up to 10Mbps download (4Mbps upload) and become part of their TooWay consumer rural broadband service in Europe and UK during spring 2011, was successfully launched into orbit (space) last night at 21:51GMT.

It's understood that acquisition of the satellite’s telemetry signal by Eutelsat’s control centre at the Rambouillet teleport, and the partial deployment of the solar arrays have already been successfully completed.

The operator claims that its 70Gbps capable satellite will serve more than 1 Million customers who expect bandwidth and prices comparable to ADSL2+ (up to 24Mbps) performance. By contrast Eutelsat's existing TooWay service offers download speeds of around 3.6Mbps with prices starting from £20 - £30 per month (2.4GB usage allowance).

Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO, said:

"We are delighted to confirm that our KA-SAT satellite is now on its way to 9 East, and thank ILS and Khrunichev for this new launch success. KA-SAT will be the cornerstone of a breakthrough infrastructure deployed by Eutelsat for users across Europe and the Mediterranean Basin.

By combining a satellite equipped with more than 80 spotbeams and a network of ground stations, this new programme will deliver more capacity than any other satellite programme deployed worldwide. These new resources will in particular benefit Internet Service Providers, enabling them to extend broadband to consumers and enterprises in areas unserved by terrestrial networks.

KA-SAT will also consolidate Eutelsat’s Professional Data Network activity, which generates 15% of our revenues, with solutions for enterprises and public administrations that drive down costs of terminals and bandwidth.

The launch of KA-SAT is further evidence of the sustained commitment to investment and innovation that Eutelsat has successfully pursued, with the objective of increasing the contribution of satellites to a booming digital economy."

The deployment of KA-SAT, both in space and on the ground, will be pursued with three key phases prior to full entry into commercial service. The first phase comprises circularising the satellite’s orbit, with four firings of the apogee motor over the coming seven days.

Once the satellite is on station at 9 East, it will undergo a series of in-orbit tests. This will be followed by the final phase of integrated validation of the satellite and ground stations before commercial entry into service, which is planned for end May 2011.

Eutelsat could also face competition from Avanti Communications, which successfully launched its own 10Mbps capable HYLAS1 satellite almost exactly one month earlier (here). However Avanti does not have as much redundancy in its network and service prices are expected to start at £25 per month for a 2Mbps connection (faster and cheaper options are already available from Eutelsat and ASTRA ISP's).
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