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Deutsche Telekom Moves DSL To New Bird

By | March 27, 2002

      Deutsche Telekom has decided to switch the Astra satellite it will use to offer its satellite-based broadband T-DSL service. Instead of offering the service on the soon-to-be- launched Astra 3A in the 23.5/24.2 degrees East orbital slot, Deutsche Telekom will use the Astra bird located at 19.2 degrees East, the main orbital position of its Luxembourg- based partner SES Astra. “This position is already used by many customers, therefore customers will incur minimal expense and will not have to move their satellite dishes,” Telekom official Willfried Seibel said in explaining the reason for the change.

      According to the original plans, the users of T-DSL via satellite would have had to either buy a second dish for the 23.5/24.2 degrees East slot or receive signals from both the 19.2 degrees East and 23.5/24.2 degrees East with a multifeed solution.

      Interspace understands that the move to Astra’s main position was made possible by the sudden increase of transponder space at 19.2 degrees East, mainly the result of the bankruptcy of Europe Online and the merged Polish Wizja-TV/Cyfra+ pay-TV platform which has decided to move its complete operation from Astra to Hot Bird at 13 degrees East.

      Telekom’s T-DSL service, which is currently testing at 19.2 degrees East on transponder 53 (10.773 GHz H, SR 22.000, FEC 5/6), will be commercialised as a regular offer from May 1, mainly targeting users in rural areas that are not covered by Telekom’s conventional telephone-line based T-DSL service. While the data is sent at 768 Kbps via satellite, for the return channel a telephone-line-based modem/ISDN connection to a regular ISP is needed.

      Two subscription models are available. For 19.90 euros ($17.4) per month a transfer volume via satellite of 500 megabits is included with every additional megabit costing 5 cents. The second model costs 39.90 euros ($34.9) per month and doesn’t limit the amount of transferred data.

      In both cases, a 99 euro ($86.5) sign-up fee has to be paid. Compared with Telekom’s conventional T-DSL service, the satellite solution suffers from a clear disadvantage. While Telekom, through its ISP T-Online, offers the conventional users a flat-rate model, satellite customers always have to keep an eye on their clocks since the return channel creates ongoing per-minute costs. A flat-rate solution is not offered. Industry analysts therefore question the prospects of Telekom’s service, in particular since companies like Hughes/DirecWay and Tiscali have recently launched inexpensive two-way broadband Internet via satellite solutions to the consumer market where customers do not face additional costs because of the return channel.

      –Jorn Krieger

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