Eutelsat to Launch Broadband Satellite

Starting in June, the European operator's new endeavor will bring service to consumers in areas with low population density

Eutelsat, the European satellite operator, is to launch a satellite-based broadband service for consumers in June this year.

The service will provide broadband connectivity to consumers living in regions of Europe underserved by fixed-line broadband.

The satellite operator said prices will be comparable with traditional broadband networks but will reach areas where low population density means these services have yet to be extended.

The service will provide "comprehensive coverage" of Europe and the Mediterranean basin and will include Germany, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. Additional network capacity has been set aside for expansion of the service. Eutelsat has developed the system with Viasat - which provides the satellite broadband technology - and broadband operator Skylogic. It will use Eutelsat's Hot Bird 6 satellite to transmit data, with Skylogic providing an access point to the satellite at a central hub in Turin.

The development follows Inmarsat's recent announcement that it will offer a satellite consumer broadband service, also slated to be available in June.

The collaboration means the consumer market for satellite broadband services can be addressed in Europe's "geographically challenged locations", said Arduino Patacchini, director of multimedia at Eutelsat and CEO of Skylogic.

Mark Agnew, vice president of Viasat, said in a statement: "We're testing a competitive, affordable service to expand the reach of the European consumer broadband market."

The service is already in use in North America through WildBlue Communications and since its launch in 2005 it has been used by more than 100,000 customers.