Tiscali Targets Improved Satellite Performance

By | January 12, 2004 | Feature

Pan-European ISP Tiscali, which recently signed a deal with SatLynx to rollout its Tiscali Sat service in 10 European countries, hopes to extend that partnership if the demand for satellite broadband services continue to grow.

Mario Mariani, senior vice president at Tiscali, told SATELLITE NEWS: “We are open to further extensions of the service whenever we find good market opportunities to launch it, as happened with Finland and Slovakia. In Finland we are directly present in the country, while in Slovakia we operate commercially through a local business partner.”

Consumers in these territories will be able to enjoy a two-way broadband satellite connection with a download speed up to 500 Kbps. While the operator is expanding its two-way services across Europe, it will also expand the reach of its one-way service early this year. Mariani said: “At the same time, we are launching in partnership with Eutelsat our new one-way satellite Internet connection service to consumers. It is already available in Italy and Sweden, and it will go live in France at the beginning of 2004.”

While a number of Internet companies have had their struggles over the years, Tiscali has been one of the main success stories in Europe. It has operations in all major European countries. In 2004, it will be concentrating its efforts on boosting its DSL subscriber base, while satellite is also a growing part of its business. In terms of its satellite proposition, Mariani commented: “We offer both two-way satellite Internet services in partnership with SatLynx and one way services – or hybrid services – in partnership with Eutelsat. While the first one is proving to be an ideal connectivity solution for the business users in the rural areas, the second one is specifically [designed] for the consumer users’ needs. We think fast satellite Internet access will show interesting developments in the Nordic region, Eastern European countries among others.”

Strength Of Brand

Tiscali’s move into satellite broadband service is further indication of its desire to deepen its brand not just geographically, but also in terms of the types of services it offers to consumers. It believes the strength of its brand offers a key competitive advantage over other ISPs entering the satellite broadband space. Mariani said: “In comparison to other operators who sell satellite Internet connectivity only, our satellite Internet services can benefit from the visibility both in terms of marketing exposure and the distribution channel coming from all Tiscali Internet connection services, both narrowband and broadband. Satellite Internet service is one of several broadband Internet connectivity solutions offered by the company. Also, in general Tiscali is an ISP, which offers to its users a Web portal full of services and Internet content. Alongside the growth of our broadband Internet users, we are increasing the offer of broadband content and services as well.”

In the area of content, Tiscali is one of the most innovative ISPs around. Its Tiscali Music Club enables users to buy digital music over the Internet and is one of the most progressive services of its kind. The service enables users to potentially download entire albums for less than 10 euros (US$13).

Tiscali recently broadcasted a concert promoting AIDS awareness from South Africa. According to Mariani, over 1.2 million connections were made to this concert. It also has dedicated sports coverage in the areas of motocross and motorcycling, as well as movies available using video-on-demand (VOD). It recently launched web-based communication video services such as video call conference and video mail.

Pricing

In terms of the pricing satellite broadband packages to users across Europe, Mariani commented: “Our two-way satellite Internet connection services are priced at around 80 euros ($100) per month for a single-user product and around 200 euros ($251) per month for a multi-user product. Of course, we have local offer prices in each country, but that is a representative average. The one-way satellite Internet connection services are more affordable, with prices ranging from 25 to 40 euros ($31 to 50).”

Despite the potential for satellite broadband services, consumer perception remains a problem, with many consumers believing that it is too expensive and too slow. Mariani responded to this perception: “It is known that satellite Internet connections are more expensive than standard ADSL, as it is known that the latency time is wider than a traditional connection. This said, the satellite products available today are the only way to bring broadband coverage in those areas that are not reached by terrestrial ADSL infrastructure. This kind of connection remains preferable to the dial-up connection whenever users need to download high amounts of data from the Internet.”

Mariani added: “We do not forecast dramatic changes in the satellite market for 2004. We will continue to increase our two-way satellite services but we have even better expectations from the launch of our new one-way services. Satellite connection still remains a niche product and we cannot expect the same figures of the ADSL market but it remains a very good answer for broadband connectivity in rural areas.”

–Mark Holmes

(Elisa Lavagna, Image Building, e-mail: e.lavagna@imagebuilding.it )

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