New satellite broadband services launch

Satellite broadband allows workers in remote places to get high-speed internet access

European satellite operator Eutelsat yesterday announced it will be launching a Europe-only satellite broadband service in June while Thales will launch a UK system. Eutelsat's consumer service will provide internet access in Europe where conventional hard-wired broadband is ineffective or just not possible - such as in remote towns and villages.

Development partner ViaSat will provide the terminals to access the service. They will be based on the company's SurfBeam DOCSIS technology which is used by satellite broadband providers all over the world.

The service will start with Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal before moving into other countries. The company will set aside extra bandwidth for expansion.

Eutelsat co-developed the system with Skylogic and ViaSat - developers of a widely used standard in satellite broadband technology. The data will be relayed using Eutelsat's Hot Bird 6 satellite with a central hub point in Turin.

UK satellite broadband

Meanwhile, communications company Thales today told it will offer its first satellite broadband service to the UK on 21 May. It also said it will consider providing consumer services once its business service is successful.

Thales UK last week announced it had become a distribution partner of Inmarsat 's Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) mobile satellite broadband service, and will help provide access to UK businesses.

According to Thales, to access the satellite broadband there is no need for specialist technical knowledge. All a user needs is a laptop PC, a special satellite BGAN unit and a telephone handset or headset. The company believes the service will have speeds of up to 492kbps.

The Inmarsat-4 satellites sit in a geostationary orbit and are used to carry data around the planet as Internet Protocol packet-switched data - the language of the internet.