BTopenwoe launches broadband satellite service

And the heavens opened...

BTopenworld has brought forward plans to offer a two-way broadband satellite service providing coverage for more than half the population currently outside the reach of BT's copper-wire DSL service.

In April BTopenworld CEO, Andy Green, told The Register that he was holding talks with a number of providers concerning the provision of broadband over satellite and hoped that a service would be available within the next 18 months to two years.

However, in a move to head off mounting criticism of BT's lamentable roll-out of broadband services - especially in rural areas - November's launch of the service is to be made available first in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Northern Ireland, before being extended to other areas of the UK.

The service is being provided by Gilat Satellite Networks, which last month announced that it is to launch a broadband satellite service for Tiscali in the autumn.

Earlier this month Aramiska - backed by venture capitalists Whitney & Co - said it planned to roll-out its two-way broadband satellite service in the UK from the beginning of next year.

With a clutch of competitors already vying for a share of the market, BTopenworld has yet to confirm a price for the service, which is aimed at SMEs and home workers, but has indicated that should retail at under £100 a month.

However, critics fear that BT will charge a high price for its satellite service to discourage people who may have a choice of choosing the satellite service ahead of the end-to-end BT-owned DSL service.

BTopenworld denies this although it admits the satellite service will be more expensive than its own DSL offering.

Andy Green, BTopenworld chief executive officer said: "The launch of our satellite service will meet the demand for always on, high speed Internet services for businesses in more remote locations, while extended reach will now mean more than 90 per cent of customers connected to an enabled exchange, will be able to access broadband technology."

Last week BT cut cost of its wholesale ADSL product BT IPStream 500 by £5 a month from September 1 in response to growing competitive pressure from cable companies. ®

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