Telekom in Astra ADSL plan
In an aim to counteract the growing competition from the new owners of its former cable networks in the prospering market for broadband Internet access, Deutsche Telekom has signed a deal with SES Multimedia, a subsidiary of Astra operator SES, to develop and eventually launch its ADSL service T-DSL to German homes nationwide using the Luxembourg- based company’s satellite fleet.
According to Telekom, the main purpose of the agreement is to offer T-DSL to households in rural areas which, due to technical reasons, won’t be connected to the regular telephone line based T-DSL service. The satellite service, branded “T-DSL powered by Astra”, will enable households to reach download speeds of up to 768Kbit/s. For the reception, a standard Astra dish with an Universal LNB and a DVB PC card is needed. The dish has to be pointed to 24.2 degrees East, SES’s third orbital position, which is currently the home of Astra 1D. In the second quarter of 2002, Astra 3A, the first satellite designated for the new 24.2/23.5 degrees East slot, will take over its services. Hans Albert Aukes, Chief Operating Officer of T-Com, Deutsche Telekom, explained: “The agreement with SES Multimedia for the use of the Astra-Net platform provides an innovative approach to supplementing the existing broadband services of Deutsche Telekom. Due to the ubiquity of the satellite coverage, we will have the potential to serve every household in Germany.”
However, compared with the standard telephone line based T-DSL service, the satellite solution suffers from one disadvantage: Only the downstream will utilise the satellite and profit from the large bandwith while the upstream still uses a conventional analogue modem or ISDN connection.
According to Telekom spokesman Willfried Seibel, the new satellite based solution will offer the subscribers the possibility to switch on the fast satellite downstream during operations which need large bandwith while at all other times the regular telephone line based Internet connection also acts as the downstream. He explained that the final price structure still hasn’t been fixed. However, he hinted that the costs of “T-DSL powered by Astra” could consist of a monthly fee and volume-based charges. The decision not to utilise a satellite based return channel has advantages and disadvantages: On the positive side, users don’t have to pay the comparably high costs for uplink equipment and can use their existing telephone line for the upstream, however the negative effect, in comparison with the users of the conventional T-DSL service, can be found on the cost side: While the customers of the latter solution profit from an unmetered two-way telephone line based T-DSL flatrate, the users of the T-DSL service on satellite have to pay per-minute charges for the conventional modem or ISDN connection needed for the return path. Thus, for anyone who can choose between both variants, the satellite based T-DSL service isn’t a real alternative – unless Telekom reintroduces flatrate access to the users of analogue telephone modems and ISDN cards.