Eutelsat has upgraded its Tooway satellite broadband service, offering download speeds of up to 10Mbit/s for consumers and up to 50Mbit/s for business customers, which can be accessed from any location in the UK and Europe.
Available immediately, the service could help bridge the digital divide by enabling high-speed internet access anywhere in the UK, including rural areas that are not currently served by fixed-line broadband services.
"We have the entire UK covered, and customers can order the service from today and be up and running within weeks," said Steve Petrie, northern European director for Eutelsat subsidiary Skylogic.
For consumers, Tooway offers several service grades from a 6Mbit/s downlink with 1Mbit/s uplink, through to a 10Mbit/s downlink and 4Mbit/s uplink, while businesses and professional users can opt for a 50Mbit/s service with 20Mbit/s uplink, coming in the near future.
Pricing starts from £24.99 per month, with the option of buying the hardware for £199 or renting it for an extra £10 per month. There is also a one-off installation fee of £199.
The upgraded service is delivered via Eutelsat's new KA-SAT satellite, launched at the end of last year. This is optimised for delivering IP-based services, according to the firm, and divides its geographical coverage into a number of spots covering the UK and Europe, rather than a single large signal footprint, which allows the re-use of frequencies in different spots without interference.
To subscribe, customers need a satellite dish and a modem, which resembles a standard broadband modem and provides an Ethernet connection to a computer or a router in a similar fashion.
Eutelsat sees a significant market for the new service from customers outside urban areas covered by fixed broadband.
"There are still about 250,000 homes in the UK that can't get anything other than a dial-up internet connection, and many other broadband users can't get more than 2Mbit/s," said Petrie.
It can also be used as a backup internet connection for businesses or delivered as a mobile service for outside broadcast units.
While satellite connections result in higher latency than terrestrial broadband links, Eutelsat said that Tooway can still be used for applications such as Voice-over-IP and video conferencing, as the signal suffers very little jitter, allowing for software buffering to deliver a satisfactory experience.
The Tooway service is provided by Eutelsat resellers, which in the UK includes Avonline, Bentley Walker and Broadband Wherever.
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