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.
“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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