Germany forges ahead with satellitebroadband service offerings

Germany, already the country with the most DSL connections in Europe, is poised to take the lead in the rollout of satellite...

Germany, already the country with the most DSL connections in Europe, is poised to take the lead in the rollout of satellite broadband services.

This month, Deutsche Telekom and Hot Telecommunications (Deutschland) - a fully owned company of Hughes Network Systems - launched an array of satellite broadband services.

Deutsche Telekom's satellite service is aimed specifically at private and small business users - about 10% of the population - that cannot be reached through its land-based DSL service.

"We said from the start that we won't be able to extend DSL to all parts of Germany for cost reasons, so this is a solution aimed to fill the gaps," said Deutsche Telekom spokesman Walter Genz.

"The satellite service is not aimed at potential DSL customers because they're clearly better off with a fixed-line service. It's cheaper."

Deutsche Telekom is partnering with SES Global of Luxembourg, which operates the Astra satellite. The service provides a 768Kbps (bits per second) downlink via satellite and a 64Kbps or tunnelled 124Kbps over ISDN.

Users require an Astra dish and either a DVB (digital video broadcasting) PC card or DVB USB (universal serial bus) set-top box. They can choose between two tariffs: €19.90 (£12) a month for 500Mbytes, with each additional megabyte costing around three pence; or €39.90 (££24.83) a month with no limit on volume.

They must also have an ISDN connection, which costs about €32 (£20), and an Internet account. Deutsche Telekom's Internet arm, T-Online, offers access plans with a combined phone discount starting at €5 (£3.11) a month and less than a penny a minute.

The company's DSL users, by comparison, pay about €14 (£8.71) a month for the connection and about €5 (£3.11) for an unmetered Internet service, in addition to the €32 (£20) a month ISDN connection.

At the end of April, Deutsche Telekom had contracts for 2.4 million DSL connections, of which 2.3 million were installed. The operator is signing up approximately 700,000 new customers a month.

By contrast, Hughes Network Systems Europe is targeting remote corporate workers and small and medium-sized businesses with its two-way broadband service.

Hughes Network Systems was among the first in Europe to role out VSAT (very small aperture terminal) services when the European market for satellite services opened up more than 15 years ago.

Earlier in the year, Internet service provider Strato launched one of Germany's first broadband satellite services. For $39.30 (£27.30) a month, customers can download 500Mbytes at speeds up to 1.6Mbps and upload at 64Kbps or 124K bps tunnelled.

Heavy data users can select a higher-speed package: €54.90 (£34) a month for a 4Mbps downstream link and 64K or 124Kbps upstream, including 1Gbyte.

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