Available immediately, Tooway is the first satellite service offering similar speeds and costs to fixed-line broadband, according to Eutelsat. It can offer a lifeline to customers in parts of the UK not well served by broadband, such as rural areas.
"We are mainly targeting consumers who are underserved by other broadband providers, but packages for professional users can be provided by our partners, " said Arduino Patacchini, Eutelsat's director of multimedia and value added services.
Tooway will be delivered in the UK via a network of certified local distributors that can install the service and provide support. They will also be able to offer additional TV and IP telephony services using the same equipment.
Customers just need a satellite dish and modem to get connected to the internet, according to Eutelsat. The modem has an Ethernet port for connection to a computer or a router, and requires no drivers or client software to be installed.
The Tooway service is delivered via Eutelsat's Eurobird 3 satellite, and provides 2Mbit/s download and 256kbit/s upload speeds. While the service is perfectly sufficient for most applications, Eutelsat warns that Tooway is not recommended for software such as online games that require low network latency.
A new satellite due to launch in 2010 will enable Eutelsat to deliver broadband at speeds up to 10Mbit/s, with capacity for 200,000 to 300,000 UK customers.
This will require different kit to that currently used for the Tooway service. Customers will be able to upgrade if they wish, or remain on the current 2Mbit/s service, the company said.
Once available, this service will be "unique", according to Patacchini. "No other operator has any comparable service planned," he said.
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