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UK businesses can now get broadband services over satellite following the launch of a commercially available service from Bridge Broadband.

Aimed specifically at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and home workers, the service has been launched in tandem with Hughes Network, part of the giant Hughes Electronics Corporation.

Bridge Broadband - part of IT and communications outfit Flexia Plc - pulls no punches when it discusses the benefits of its service.

Taking aim at the lack of availability of ADSL services, Bridge Broadband claims the service will be a lifeline for those businesses outside major metropolitan areas where access to a broadband services is limited.

With the continuing lack of ADSL penetration, Bridge Broadband is the only immediately available solution for SMEs and home workers across most of the UK, the company said in press statement.

Said Steve Smith, co-founder and managing partner of Bridge Broadband: "Until now, the UK's small businesses have been poorly served when it comes to broadband Internet connectivity.

"And this situation is not about to get any better for businesses waiting for an ADSL service," he said.

Bridge Broadband is offering four different service levels. Among them, the Enterprise service for SMEs offers a down path of 512Kbps with a 128 Kbps return and is priced at £269 per month (excluding VAT)

The SoHo service for home workers also offers a 512 Kbps down path with a 128 Kbps return and is priced at £159 per month (excluding VAT).

Both tariffs include installation and maintenance. Bridge Broadband hopes to attract around 5,000 customers in its first year.

Earlier this month BTopenworld published the pricing details for its Business Satellite 500/1 service will allow a user to connect a single PC to the service.

Currently undergoing trials in Scotland and Northern Ireland the service costs £69.99 a month plus a whopping one-off connection charge of £899 (prices are exclusive of VAT).

Tiscali - which was due to introduce a satellite-based broadband service in the UK this year - has delayed the roll-out until next year. ®

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Tiscali UK delays broadband satellite roll-out until 2002
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