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New Eutelsat Tooway Packages Bring 20Mbps Broadband To Rural UK

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Could Tooway broadband be a rural saviour?

Satellite broadband provider Eutelsat has announced details of Tooway packages that could plug a gap in the UK’s broadband coverage, offering 20Mbps download speeds in areas where subscribers are only currently getting a languid 2Mbps.

Tooway packages with 20Mbps download speeds start at £35, including equipment rental, per month, and go up to £80 depending on the consumption limits. The services use the Eutelsat Hotbird 6 satellite, launched in December 2010. Eutelsat uses the Ka band of spectrum, where it is now possible to have bi-direction links (hence the name Tooway). Previous satellite services tended to rely on slower uplink services.

Ka Sat Satellite broadband Eutelsat Tooway

Tooway to heaven

“Research shows there are 3.3m UK premises that cannot receive broadband or receive a service of less than 2 Mbps,” said Eutelsat’s press announcement, pitching the new service firmly at these “digitally deprived properties”.

The only drawback to the idea is the latency – the delay as the Internet traffic travels up to the satellite and back down. With the satellite 35,000km up, that’s 70,000 km for a one way trip to the rest of the Internet, and 140,000km for a two-way hop. At the speed of light, this is still only a matter of about 450ms, and should not adversely affect the majority of internet use, says Eutelsat.

For those on a tight budget, the company is in fact offering a 2Mbps service, with 1Mbps upload, for £20 (£19.99) plus a recommended price of £6 a month for  equipment rental.

That’s the S package, but the real action is in the M, L and XL packages, which all offer 20Mbps download and 6Mbps upload, with varying consumption levels, from 10GB for the £30 M profile up to 30GB for the £50 XL profile, with an additional “Absolute” unlimited package at £75 per month. The L and XL packages also included unlimited off-peak consumption, between 11pm and 7am UK time.

All the services use the same 77cm satellite dish and modem from ViaSat, which adds a recommended £6 a month to the price.

Eutelsat says the service is “triple-play ready” and is working with distributors and installers, including Avonline Broadband and Satellite Broadband UK. Overall, the satellite has around 50Gbps capacity.

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Eutellsat Tooway Ka Sat Satellite Broadband

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Eutelsat's Ka Sat
Eutelsat's Ka Sat in space (simulation)