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Internet access

May 31, 2011

A new Eutelsat service is aimed at serving customers in rural and remote parts of Europe. Neelie Kroes, the EU commissioner for the digital agenda, says satellite access is crucial for underserved areas.

Launch at Baikonur, Kazakhstan
Ka-Sat was launched into space in December 2010Image: AP

On Tuesday, a European satellite began providing Internet access to people in underserved and remote parts of Europe. The Eutelsat satellite, known as Ka-Sat, was launched from Kazakhstan in late December 2010.

In a statement, Eutelsat said that "more than one million homes in Europe and large parts of the Mediterranean Basin," will be served by its new Internet service.

"The entry into service of Ka-Sat, the world's most powerful spotbeam satellite, turns a new page in affordable and immediately available IP solutions, and places Europe at the forefront of high-capacity satellite technologies that can serve to quickly close the broadband gap," said Michel de Rosen, the company's CEO, in a statement. "We look forward to working with our service and technology partners to unleash the huge potential of this new pan-European wireless infrastructure."

Eutelsat's Ka-Sat, whose service is sold under the brand name Tooway, will provide speeds comparable to other terrestrial broadband providers, at 10 megabits per second for downloads and four megabits per second for uploads.

Competitive with traditional broadband service

Neelie Kroes
Neelie Kroes said Tuesday that satellite access could help Europeans in remote areasImage: by-sa/European Parliament

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the basic service for consumers would cost 30 euros ($43) per month, but that households would also need to purchase a modem and satellite dish for 250 euros ($360).

On its website, Tooway added that the service would cost "virtually the same monthly fee as ADSL," adding that "Prices and sales conditions are available from service providers in each country."

EU official lauds satellite access

Also on Tuesday, the EU's commissioner for the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, gave a speech in which she re-iterated the goal for all of the EU to have broadband access by 2013 - and that the EU is already most of the way there.

"95 percent of Europeans now have access to broadband internet infrastructure," she said. "That's a great achievement. But it still leaves a lot of people - 10 million households, in fact - who we are still to reach."

She added that these remaining 10 million households were in rural and isolated locations, and suggested that wireless and satellite connections are likely the best way to make sure that these residences get online.

"They can be the most cost-effective in such areas where more common landline solutions are not an option," she said.

Author: Cyrus Farivar
Editor: Nicole Goebel