BT Wholesale has announced it is to commence trials of delivering a ‘high-speed’ Internet service via satellite. The service will, if trials are successful, be aimed at small businesses and high-use residential customers that are unable to receive DSL or cable modem broadband services.
However, the trials will be based on using an ordinary phone line for the return path, which limits the upstream speed. The service will download using a 65cm satellite dish, with the standard downstream speed being 256 Kbps – allowing an always-on connection to selected Internet pages. There will be higher speed options available as the trial progresses, with the projected maximum being 4 Mbps. These higher speed options would be charged at a pay-by-use rate.
According to BT Wholesale, experience in Europe shows there is a demand for this type of service and it believes this will also be the case in the UK. It added that currently more than 70%of internet users in the UK are connected to 1,010 BT exchanges which have been enabled for ADSL broadband, with work under way to enable a further 100 exchanges. BT says it is continuing to explore a range of technologies to meet the broadband needs of customers outside the areas of these enabled exchanges.
Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale, said: This is an exciting development capable of delivering the benefits of fast, ‘always-on’, internet downloading right across the UK. It is not true broadband, but it will give much faster Internet access to many people who could otherwise be denied.
We believe this will be a valuable, additional way of providing fast Internet to areas beyond the reach of conventional broadband and shows we are pushing forward on many fronts with simple, competitive solutions for customers.
The trial is set to start late next month, and will last for six months. Service providers who want to trial the service will have to be willing to market the service in non-DSL enabled areas, according to the company.
It is anticipated that the trial wholesale price to service providers will be under £15 per month; and that the connection charge to end users including equipment and installation of the satellite dish will be around £400. The total cost to end users will be set by the service providers, although it should be noted that the cost of a phone line to provide the return path will be additional.