First European broadband satellite set for launch

Rural broadband access could be about to get a boost thanks to a new satellite due for launch tonight.

Satellite

The first ever broadband satellite to be launched in Europe is due for the skies tonight and thousands of consumers living in secluded corners of the UK could benefit.

Avanti's HYLAS 1 will be blasted into space on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guyana at around 18:39 GMT.

The 120 million satellite will use KA-Band technology, a very high frequency radio spectrum, to deliver broadband services of up to 10Mbps, Avanti said.

European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency were also involved in funding the satellite.

HYLAS 1's most powerful beams will be focused on the UK, Avanti claimed.

"This is a landmark day for the many consumers and businesses across Europe, who have been frustrated by lack of access to adequate broadband, it means that finally there is the opportunity to solve the digital divide," said Avanti chief executive (CEO) David Williams.

"The launch of our satellite today means that access to broadband in remote areas is no longer on the distant horizon."

The company is in the process of producing a second sattelite, HYLAS 2, which is planned for a spring 2012 launch.

Once completed, the combined capacity of the two satellites will be able to support a million consumers.

The services will be sold through other telecoms companies. In the UK, Avanti is not partnered with any of the major ISPs such as BT or Virgin but with a number of smaller firms.

These include Coview Solutions and Broadband Wherever, both of which offer satellite broadband options.

BT declined to comment on the satellite launch.

Earlier this week, it emerged eight Cornish communities would be given fibre capability within five months, potentially benefiting more than 10,000 businesses.

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