back to article Satellite to offer 10Mbit broadband to entire UK

A French firm plans to launch a satellite next year that it says will offer the entire UK up to 10Mbit/s broadband, including rural areas that are poorly served by ADSL and cable. This week, Eutelsat is launching "Tooway" broadband in the UK at up to 2Mbit/s, via an existing satellite. Its new craft, launching in the third …

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Black Helicopters

Excellent

On the net from an undefined location.

How long will they allow this I wonder ?

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Mmmmm. Or maybe not.

Satellite for downstream is one thing, but this seems to use satellite for downstream and upstream. Nice ping times there then, gaming should be real fun. And even for surfing, with round trip latencies in the hundreds of milliseconds (is that right for geostationary?) the surfing experience will leave something to be desired. It might suit outlying areas which are out of the reach of both DSL and 3G, and where the main interest is non-interactive stuff (classic non-web-based email, downloading files via classic ftp, uploading website updates ditto, etc) but I can't see it catching on as a consumer technology for consumer applications. But the UK has government subsidies going begging for the nice Lord Carter's broadband universal service obligation (yes, Lord Carter of NTL and Ofcon) so I guess these folks want their share of the trough.

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what's the cap?

When I was investigating satellite broadband a couple of years ago the three things that killed the prospect were the cost of entry, the pitifully slow connection speeds and the miserly monthly cap on data volumes. A recent re-visit to the market showed me that nothing much had changed - except there are much more viable alternatives, such as 3G broadband.

Now these guys have a new product, and el Reg's article shows they have come some way to addressing the first two show-stoppers. However, as the third leg of this particular bar-stool hasn't been mentioned, I must presume that the amount of stuff you can download is still too low (albeit, you can reach your monthly limit much, much faster) to be of any real use.

From a strategic point of view, it's hard to see where these guys are going to get any long-term business from. Any terrestrial solution (3G, WiMax - sorry, I couldn't help myself) will beat a space-bound one hands down. Not just in terms of latency: having to wait hundreds of milliseconds for the signal to bounce off a geostationary sat. but in infrastructure costs, too. Just like satellite phones didn't take off, except in a literal way on the pointy end of a rocket, I think that more modern solutions means that progress will eat these guys' lunch. I'm out.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Excellent

"On the net from an undefined location."

Ah, yes, I'd missed that. Good point. But I think in practice it is more likely to be on the net "from a location that isn't white-listed for the service you wanted and which our terrorist filter has flagged up as requiring further investigation with some rubber hose". Still, one can dream.

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Black Helicopters

They still know where you are...

The "satellite" side of satellite broadband is download only, the upload is still via phone line (and presumably still slow).

Unless you have a ground station in your backyard, of course.

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Black Helicopters

Bit costly though.....

30 squid just for 10meg bb is a bit much in comparison to other broadband package costs already out there. I get 8meg & phone for half that cost.

That said, I wonder if this will dent Jackboots Smith's IMP idea? Will the Home Office be prepared to pay the French for data storage and retrieval and how much will that cost the French to isolate the UK data from the rest of Europe?

Bring on 2010 and the broadband wars.

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K
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Nice..

The hardware may be a little pricey, but in all thats not a bad price considering over satellite services.

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Alternatives

It's more likely to get launched and in position than Avanti's Hylass1 launched on Falcon9.

You won't be from an undefined location. You either get an IP related to country your terminal is supposed to be in or get an IP of country the hub/earth station is in.

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Stop

Useful, but...

...how badly capped/throttled will this be? With is serving the whole of Europe I suspect the answer is "Significantly"

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Paris Hilton

Latency

The latency will be horrendous- say about 500ms. So not much good for the gamers.

Ordinary surfing, email and torrenting will be fine though....

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jon
Linux

All weather

or pointless in Scotland? :D

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Usage Restrictions

According to ispreview.co.uk the £30 package is also limited to just over 1GB of monthly usage before restrictions kick in.

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Black Helicopters

What makes you think your position is "undefined" ?

What makes you think that your transmission point isn't trackable?

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Anonymous Coward

Nope

Every one of our customers using our 2-way satellite services HAS to give us the latitude and longitude of the terminal. Otherwise the correct delay of the return carrier can't be calculated accurately and this leads to problems. It's amazing the trouble that one site with the wrong location can cause in a network!

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Alert

LATENCY?

Fine for browsing not so good for gaming...

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Alert

What's the latency going to be like?

.. it's going to be naff compared to land-based stuff because of the distances involved, no?

Pretty poor for gamer types, I'd recon.

C

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Hmm

Would be quite good out in the sticks where the BT equipment is being held together by chewing-gum and celotape... probably be fairly conspicuous carrying that dish round with you though anon ;)

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Is that a few seconds of lag in your connection ?

... or are you just happy to not use any services dependent on low latency ?

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Coat

One Word

Latency

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DT

cheese eating defends of liberty

The French government will allow it, they're far more libertarian than the UK at present, so Labour will have to lump it. Even if it's officially banned and only offered in France, setting up a foreign billing account and importing a LNB transceiver (or whatever it's called) would be trivial.

Murdock is going to have kittens! The tabloids may well go nuts over the "security risk" imposed by the French, but as Brussels won't buy the argument, it's demonstrable hot air. Heck, his papers can't demand the UK "go Chinese" and start shooting down satellites as they're needed to bring us The Simpsons, and Fox "News"!

With this and TOR networks, the government's plan of internet monitoring is only going to catch stupid, bumbling, comedy terrorists, the "Bean-Ladins" who poses more of a danger to themselves, oh and members of the general public who have broken local council bylaws or joined a club on Jackie "McCarthy" Smith's blacklist.

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Paris Hilton

BT

Don't forget, it also gives consumers freedom from the BT infrastructure and their hideously unprotected cable ducts which get destroyed by a mere large thrust borer, throwing the whole country into chaos.... and happily avoided by the froggy splattellite consumers.

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My credit card number is....

Wow, sounds impressive, but I think i'll wait until 2010 to see how well it performs. I notice that no mention of 'upstream' speeds are mentioned in the article - I'd be interested to know what it is.

I wonder which will be first, my exchange being upgraded to 21CN/WDS (Q1 2009 apparently) or the satellite being launched and a commercial service offered. I also want to see if anyone offers a 'travellers' kit for this - how nice would it be to take your Broadband with you, wherever in Europe you go?

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Un-excellent

These services are not new - the business plan is quite simple:

1) Don't understand the issues.

2) Sell to a hundred or so subscribers.

3) Go bust, leaving the subscribers out of pocket for the set up charges.

I worked for a company (a subsidiary of a very large global organisation) who tried this during the .com boom. They had the same selling point (high speed net access in areas without ADSL coverage), the same technical problem - which basically boils down to massive latency (geo-stationary orbits haven't got any closer). The only thing which appears to have changed is that their potential market (people who can't get ADSL) is much smaller.

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Paris Hilton

Up speed?

I presume the 10mbit/s is downstream only and your speed upwards will be limited by whatever other technology you have at hand - ADSL, phone, whatever - and you'll end up paying for both. Unless they plan to give every customer a satellite uplink dish?

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Ali
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At Last!

Satellite Broadband has been available for years, but hasn't been aimed at the ordinary man in the street. Internet connectivity outside major cities and towns is a joke in the UK. This is long overdue. It's just a pity that it's a foreign company has seen the light. I'm sure though that Big Brother will tell them to keep logs . . . Static IPv6 addresses for all their customers?

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Here we go again...

Anyone remember the problems Aramiska had ?

Still, that was during the rapid takeup of ADSL; I guess there should be a more stable customer base now.

Good luck to 'em I say.

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Unhappy

Cap

I bet the data cap is fairly brutal. I was with Eutelsat (on eBird) for some time and the download limits where about 300MB a month before speed restrictions cut in.

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Boffin

total satellite downlink/uplink speed?

Does anybody know the total up- and downlink capacity of this next generation satellite?

Will they switch to a laser link between the groundstation and the satellite as demonstrated by ESA some years ago?

Or is the current radio technology good enough for xxx Gbit/s?

Just wondering, because 10 Mbit/s per user will mean lot's of Gbit/s or even worse in total. Even when lot's of users are not using all of the 10 Mbit/s all the time...

Or do they just not subscribe more than

total_bandwith/(average_bandwith*number_of_users)

Mine's the coat with the question marks in the pocket...

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Unhappy

Either its 2Mbit or 10Mbit?

"A French firm plans to launch a satellite next year that it says will offer the entire UK up to 10Mbit/s broadband, including rural areas that are poorly served by ADSL and cable.

This week, Eutelsat is launching "Tooway" broadband in the UK at up to 2Mbit/s, via an existing satellite."

So which speed is it? The article states 2Mbit throughout. That is not 10Mbit.

On a good point - at least satelitte broadband is getting cheaper.

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Anonymous Coward

I hope it's improved

Last time I saw this technology, the upload speed was less than a tenth of the download speed.

Web 2.0 friendly, it was not.

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Go

Vive la France!

As the title suggests.

They do water better than the Brits, they do electricity better than the Brits, they appear to grab a concept of "public" and universality better than the Brits.

Move over BT?

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Alert

VoIP??

Huh? What kind of VoIP do you get with geostationary satellites in the link both ways? Remember the delays in the days when transatlantic phone calls went via satellite not fibre? Now add some delays for digitisation and IP packetisation and IP routing, and you might as well just use postcards, or, if available, an actual telephone line.

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Latency sensitive?

"Eutelsat said that it will offer latency-sensitive services such as IPTV and VoIP via satellite. Fremaux conceded that the updated technology will not overcome latency problems for online gamers, however."

There some mixup of terminology here. IPTV is not latency sensitive - provided that there is sufficient bandwidth to keep the video buffers fed with data, then it doesn't much matter if the latency is 10ms or 1000ms (subject only to the buffer having to be larger with long latencies to allow for retry times and, of course, that real-time feeds will be further behind with longer latencies). VOIP is latency sensitive in the sense that you get that annoying gap between question and reply, but really what matters is "jitter" - that is the variation in the arriveal time of packets, and packet loss. Jitter is not latency (although higher latency routes can get higher levels of jitter). As you don't want to wait several seconds for a reply, using large buffers to deal with "jitter" and allowing retries to handle packet losses is not viable.

Realtime games are a different matter - that really is a pure latency issue.

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Bronze badge

i kinda like the idea

but I expect alot of tutorials on the web how to hack the system

And i think i will let somebody else try before i buy

Not sure about pings tbh. im a gamer at heart anything above 80 is gonna piss me off and i think they would be hard stretched to get below 120

Although i can see this being bloody usefull for rural companies.

I can think of three we could sell this too already

And also usefull as backup connection

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Good

Any competition is good competition. Maybe it will prompt BT to climb out of the dark ages without spitting their dummies out.

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Anonymous Coward

latency

They say the latency is about 600 ms. The time to a geosynchronous satellite and back is about 250 ms. So that makes sense: the "ping time" is a round trip, so the signal makes the 36000 km journey four times. However, if two subscribers to the same service are communicating peer-to-peer, does their communication go directly via the satellite (600 ms ping time, four times 36000 km), or does their communication go via a third ground station (1200 ms ping time, eight times 36000 km)?

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Terrific news

Especially for my client in a small village near Henley-on-Thames where, believe it or not, she can only get dial-up. 3G? Nope. 2G? Poor....

Funny thing is apparently one of the top execs from BT has moved in down the road, so I figure broadband won't be too far off...

I reckon her and her neighbours could share the costs ;-)

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Go

Mobile broadband

If someone makes a self-tracking dish you could go anywhere, press a button (or have it automated), the dish tracks to the satellite and you have mobile broadband without the extortionate prices of going through mobile phone networks.

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Unhappy

Wow I have super vision...

I seem to be the only one to be able to read the whole article.....otherwise people wouldn't be posting comments like.

The latency will be no good for gaming....

"Fremaux conceded that the updated technology will not overcome latency problems for online gamers, however."

*********************************

"So which speed is it? The article states 2Mbit throughout. That is not 10Mbit."

"at up to 2Mbit/s, via an existing satellite.........Its new craft, launching in the third quarter of 2010....."

Sigh....

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Re: vive la France

Try living here, you'll see that ISPs are, on average, every bit a crap as they are in the UK, and don't get me started on 3G. Grass is always greener, etc...

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Anonymous Coward

Not everyone can get 3G

There are many places in the UK where there is NO mobile coverage at all, and people live 10s of miles from the nearest exchange, if they are connected to the phone lines at all. What option do they have? This is a godsend to those people, and at a reasonable price too.

And not everyone uses the internet to play silly games. Personally I couldn't care less about latency times, and neither could many people.

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Re: Hammeroid

Oh hell, I thought I had wiped all my memories of Aramiska . 1500ms+ ping times.. mind you, I can't blame them for everything that went wrong. I still have the photos from when a crow tried to eat our feedhorn...

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Flame

Some points for the hard of reading

> Latency

If you check out their website they do indeed specifically state that it is not suitable for gaming. If someone wants to moan about it then go invent a new way to change the laws of physics to reduce the latency of a satellite link.

> Throttling

Satellite bandwidth is an expensive commodity. If you think about the cost to put a satellite into orbit versus the cost of a mobile tower or ADSL kit in an exchange you can see there is a massive difference. Now this means that generally contention ratios are more prominent on Satellie links and you are far far more likely to be sharing a single upload path with another 50 active users than you are on an ADSL exchange. This is the main reason why the network bandwidth has to be effectively managed on a Satellite network. If they're just employing draconian bandwidth caps then I must go have a word with them about it when my current contract runs out.

> Performance

Satellite performance for web browsing and using the Internet is actually very good due to improvements in upload modulation techniques, connection acceleration and caching. Satellite is very suseptable to performance glitches due to people trying to use BitTorrent as the large number of connections opened will very quickly load up the connection accelerators and cause a performance hit across the network (related to throttling). Web browsing appears to be slower as it takes a second or two to start displaying the page, but in general the load times are comparable to an ADSL link (if the service is managed properly). I've done 1000's of side by side page loads between an ADSL link and a Satellite link. They give a different feel but the performance is roughtly the same.

> Cost

Satellites are expensive 'nuff said. £400 for the ground station and £30 a month is very very reasonable for what you get. This isn't aimed at toppling BT for number 1 spot in the internet users charts. It's there to fill a void that the other providers can't be bothered to spend money in. For some people this is going to be the only option of high speed internet access so don't diss something that doesn't (and never will) apply to you.

> The equipment

Yes it transmits and receives. It doesn't use a phone line for those that missed it.

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Anonymous Coward

Not new, not cheap

"the equipment will cost about £400. The monthly subscription for the new service will be similar to the £29.99 tariff for the existing package."

As others have noted, the existing 30 quid option is limited to 1.2 gigabytes per month, which negates the speed advantage (i.e. use the speed, exceed the cap in a week). Also none of the existing package dealers make the equipment available for 400 quid. More like 599 plus 200 to install.

If the new satellite comes with a better capacity limit at the same price, then OK, but nothing was said about this.

Latency- yes, various games won't work at all (Second Life) or are almost unplayable. VOIP or Skype also useless.

I have a different satellite service, with landline uplink instead of two-way by satellite. Still has latency problems, but a 3 Gigabyte per month capacity at about 30 quid. But I also have to have a dialup modem account, or (what I actually use) a mobile "broadband" account which is about as fast as dialup. That costs another 20 quid per month. This is a German service, but you can't deal with the Germans- they insist you deal with their UK subsidiary, who are also German and charge German VAT at 19%. The great thing about the UK subsidiary is that their website has been "under construction" for the last year and a half, so no new customers can sign up anyway. Nor can I access the account options I was promised at signup, which require logging in to the web pages.

A little competition in the field would be welcome, but it still looks like the "pay through the nose" option at this point.

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Happy

Blackout ireland?

At least you could give Eircom the finger.!!! :-)

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Completely Useless

Having lived on the west coast, new zealand I had to put up with satellite broadband for a while. Latency was 1+ seconds....

it was faster to use a 56k for most things.

Do the morons who push this tech even know what its like to use it?

Even 3G is faster

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Gold badge

Satellite or dialup?

"The "satellite" side of satellite broadband is download only, the upload is still via phone line (and presumably still slow).", and @Ian Wilson with the similar comment -- yes, effectively you DO have a ground station at your house. The return path DOES go back to the satellite -- probably lower power (and lower speed) than the main uplink, but it doesn't go through some DSL, phone, etc. return path. They've had 2-way satellite available here in the US for years (although last I checked modem-return was also available, main advantage being cheaper equipment.)

As for those who say other service is better -- yes it is. But, this is for people who have no DSL or cable available. 3G here in the states (Verizon's EVDO mainly, AT&T's absolutely glacial at building out HSDPA "in the sticks") is I'm sure digging hard into the satellite market. But still, there's areas with no 3G, and areas with no cellular coverage at all, as there certainly are in Europe. In these areas it's satellite or dialup (and, usually SLOW dialup since they're on a LOOOONG phone line.)

As for the confusion over 2mbps and 10mbps -- this just isn't that confusing. They are selling 2mbps service with their existing satellite, and selling 10mbps service next year when they have a new satellite launched, simple as that. Is the one technology even related to the other? I don't know, that IS an open question. But for marketing purposes it isn't 8-)

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VOIP???

Isn't 150 milliseconds the target for latency. If these are geo-stationary satellites, then the latency just from the satellite round trip is around 250 milliseconds - and that's before any latency associated with the terrestrial network. Am I dreaming, or is the promise of a functional VOIP service just a pipe dream?

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Coat

aww gawd!!!

thats it, now i need a new place to live...

living in the internet city (a dump called Norwich) is getting too much

when you go to bed at night and suddenly start suffering tinitus/ flickering lights in your vision from the millions of wi-fi/DVB/3G/WiMax transmitters in the city, which for some reason get cranked up to maxamum power levels over night.

ADVERT:

Wanted: comfy, spacious DEEP CAVE required for conversion to domestic home, preferably in the UK. running fresh water not a requirement, though would probably be nice, no mould would would also be nice, preferably near the coast. exclusive sea view/access only properties would probably not be suitable as they would get regular rinsedowns by the sea...

failing that i'm off to some part of poland or eastern europe where they are not going to throw up a mast for every person on just the offchance that someone might want to contact someone else.

hmm..... chenobyl sounds like a good idea, definatly no masts of any kind, no (operational) power lines, very few people living nearbly, lots of wildlife, definatly no problems with suitable free accomodation....

now where's my lead lined radiation suit and air scrubbers....

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Silver badge

Re: On the net from an undefined location.

...but with your credit card and billing address information...

So the latency issue is still an issue...

And the data limit is still an issue...

The only person I can possibly think of that could use something like this would be a friend who works on oil rig supply ships, but then again you'd never keep the dish pointing in the right direction when you're bouncing about in the north sea!

Nothing new here... Move along!

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