Another Satellite Internet Service From BT

By | April 24, 2002 | Feature

Last week, BT Wholesale announced plans to a start a six-month trial of a hybrid satellite Internet service. This comes hot on the heels of another satellite Internet service launch by British Telecom.

In November 2001, BTopenworld launched a two-way service in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Highlands and Islands and has since announced that the service will be available elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Both services have been developed as an in-fill technology to provide high-speed Internet access to residential/home office and small businesses outside the reach of DSL. Prices are shown in the accompanying table.

Although not a true broadband product, the BT Wholesale offering is regarded as a low-cost product and is intended primarily for users that surf the Internet and do not have the need for a high-data rate return path. Download from the Internet will be via a receive-only dish at speeds of up to 256 Kbps, whilst the return path will be via a 56 Kbps modem connected to an ordinary phone line.

According to a BT official, “The service will provide an ‘always on’ delivery of e-mails and selected web pages. Higher speeds, up to 4 Mbps, will be available on a pay-as-used basis as the trial progresses. The end-user charge will be set up by the service providers. End users will also have to build in the cost of the phone line to upload their data back to the Internet.” The hardware for this service was developed in-house by BT Exact (BT’s R&D division). As a network provider, BT Wholesale will make this product available to all its service providers such as BTopenworld, Freeserve, etc. Meanwhile, the two-way service is based on a Gilat 360 terminal (as used by StarBand in the United States) and provides download speeds of up to 512 Kbps.

In addition to BT, other service providers that have introduced satellite Internet services in the UK include Aramiska, SMV, Bridge Broadband, K-Class, Bentley-Walker, Cedar Telecommunications and EdgeCom. Asked about the prospects for satellite Internet services in Europe, Christian Stetter, vice president of sales and marketing at Gilat Europe, said “One of the key pre-requisites for success is brand awareness, but it is very difficult and expensive to build brand awareness from scratch. That’s why in Europe, we decided to partner with established, big name players such as BT and Tiscali. In order to succeed in this business you have to be a pretty big company. There are lots of smaller companies out there offering similar types of service, but most of them are likely to go bankrupt. Only the volume players will be able to survive in the long-term.”

–Gareth Owen

Operator
Installation Fee
Monthly service fee
Max. Data Speed forward/return (kbps)
Btopenworld
500/1 PC
GBP1056
GBP70.50
512/150
500/4 PCs
GBP1526
GBP129
512/150
BT Wholesale
GBP400
< GBP15*
256/POTS
* wholesale price Source: BT
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