New satellite to offer European rural broadband coverage

Having long been regarded as being expensive and slow, satellite data services could be revolutionised when a new KA-SAT satellite is launched later this year.

According to the developer, Eutelsat, the new satellite will be able to provide affordable broadband to rural areas where cable and DSL have failed to penetrate.

"This will be the most powerful satellite in space," said Guillaume Benoit, project manager at KA-SAT. "It offers 35 times more throughput than traditional KU-band satellites, and can fulfil a crucial role in meeting the broadband needs of some 30 million underserved EU citizens."

Eutelsat believes that, by using spot beam technology, it will be able to provide dedicated coverage in 80 set areas across EMEA regions, and deliver downstream speeds of 10Mbps and 2Mbps upstream to users in areas outside of wireless or fixed line/cable coverage.

According to Jean-Francois Fremaux, director of business development at Tooway, the firm that will offer the service to resellers, the broadband package would likely appeal to small companies with up to 10 employees. "We would expect a basic package including emails, browsing and some uploading, to retail at around €30."

Commenting on the impending launch, Christopher Baugh, head of satellite broadband at analyst firm Northern Sky Research, said that this KA-SAT was a "game-changer for the industry. Previously, satellites have been viewed as inadequate for numerous reasons, such as speed or quality of service, but the new satellites now being launched are changing this."

Baugh also noted that the cost of satellite broadband is falling as resellers offer improved hardware subsidies, which could provoke governments to consider funding the access technology.

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