French WiMAX operator to offer satellite broadcast service to rural users

The French WiMAX operator Wibox has agreed to a deal with the satellite broadcaster SES Astra in order to offer broadband services to rural customers not able to connect to terrestrial networks.

According to SES Astra, WiBox--which is a subsidiary of the French telecoms operator Altitude Infrastructure--would now be able to offer high-speed Internet connections to consumers or small businesses, including VoIP, TV and radio channels carried by the Astra satellite.

Norbert Willems, MD of Astra Broadband Services, said: "Wibox is the first WIMAX operator to use our successful satellite broadband technology. The agreement will allow Wibox to provide 100 per cent coverage everywhere in France without an additional investment into costly infrastructure."

This unusual move, which indicates the pressure French WiMAX operators are experiencing to offer rural services, comes as a new study from In-Stat forecasts troubled times for the technology.

"It seems that as one door opens for WiMAX, another door closes," said Chris Kissel, In-Stat analyst. "In the past year, there have been positive developments in consumer devices, including smartphones that use WiMAX for data but revert to 3G airlinks for voice. On the other hand, in many regions regulators are postponing spectrum auctions; and several major digital communications companies are reducing their commitment to WiMAX or leaving the space altogether."

On a more positive note, the Ukraine's largest cellular operator Kyivstar has awarded a contract to S&T Ukraine for the design and implementation of a mobile WiMAX network based on equipment manufactured by Alvarion.

The company said that WiMAX base stations had already been deployed in seven of Ukraine's largest cities, and plans were in place to continue the roll out of WiMAX coverage in other smaller cities.

For more on this story:
- read Cellular News, Telegeography & RF Globalnet

Related stories:
French WiMAX deployment in disarray
Reserve 800MHz for LTE and WiMAX, states EU commissioner
BT Italia expands WiMAX network
Telefonica Spain selects ZTE for giant WiMAX deployment

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