Europe's broadband bird goes up tonight
Filling in the not-spots
The Hylas-1 telecoms satellite is fired into space tonight, with the mission to provide satellite broadband everywhere in Europe.
If all goes well, broadband not-spots could be a thing of the past - for residents who can afford to pay the relatively small premium for the service.
The Hylas-1 is "mated" to an Ariane 5 rocket, which is currently sitting on a launchpad in Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
Hylas-1 has EU money sunk into it and the promise of (relatively) low-cost broadband for rural users resting on its success.
If the launch goes OK this evening then a cheap dish should provide something rather better than dial-up to anyone in Europe who wants it: it's not perfect, but it's a lot better than nothing.
Satellite broadband has been around for a long time, but requires a significant dish and an expensive contract. Hylas-1 should be able to provide 2Mb/sec to anyone in Europe with a 66cm dish, at about four times the price of ADSL.
Satellite broadband still suffers from a second or two of latency, long enough for the signal to get to geostationary orbit and back. This makes it unsuitable for on-line gaming and odd for VoIP applications, but a bird in the sky is worth a great deal, when compared to the pain of using a dial-up modem.
Most of the capacity will be sold through resellers such as HughesNet, which has committed to 50,000 connections through Hylas-1. Most will be businesses that like the reliability of satellite, as much as its reach.
Hughes provides satellite connections for shops selling UK lottery tickets, for example. A small proportion of lottery sellers use ADSL, but the majority rely on a satellite connection the lottery company can provide and fit without reference to local infrastructure. ®
Get used to the term FAP. Don't get into a contract if you find out if they implement FAP. You'll regret paying a premium price for dial up speeds.
I'm surprised that the lottery terminals don't use GPRS / 3G. Surely they should only dust off a satellite dish when mobile fails?
Unless there are special arrangements, it keeps local censorious bastards away
My country of residence has light touch InterNet censoring, mainly to keep rabid anti-government propaganda and Facebook, away from the population.
My company installed HongKong satellite-based InterNet feeds to our offices which means we have no politically inspired 'service interruptions'. Hopefully the WTF band of do gooders that the UK government has appointed to keep InterNet users minds pristine and free from natural instincts can't get their hands on his service.
How much more of the Blunkett/Blair/Brown legacy has yet to be removed?