Satellite Broadband

by Tony Harris, BTOpenworld

Since BTopenworld (now BTYahoo) launched ADSL in the UK in October 2000, many small businesses have been anxiously waiting to get their hands on the latest in high-speed Internet connectivity.  The benefits of an always on, high-speed broadband connection are clear: the Internet experience will never be the same.

For the majority of the population, getting an ADSL line installed should present few problems, as over 65% of the population now live within reach of an ADSL enabled exchange.  However, that still means that a significant group cannot get access to broadband Internet through telephone lines.  This is especially true for those communities away from the main urban conurbations.

With the benefits of broadband becoming clear, the need to reach those currently excluded is imperative.  The solution that many businesses have been waiting for is now available through BT among others in the UK: Broadband Internet via Satellite.

What is it and how does it work?

ADSL, or broadband, allows vast amounts of data to be transmitted down phone lines. However, unlike ADSL two-way Satellite broadband needs no phone line to allow data delivery at high speeds.

Broadband via Satellite uses technology similar to that being used in millions of homes and businesses around to country to deliver digital television services.  Indeed, in order to use BT broadband via Satellite the user will have to have a dish and receiver fitted to their property.  The satellite modem then fits to the user's PC and the two-way dish connects to the Internet via a ground-station.

However, unlike previous Internet via Satellite incarnations the offering from BT needs no telephone to perform the uplink to the users ISP as the two-way equipment performs this function.

BT is partnering with Israeli firm Gilat to offer the service, which is already running successful two-way broadband satellite offering in the US as part of a joint venture called Starband Communications.

BT Broadband via Satellite offers a download speed of 512kbps and an upload speed of 153kbps - a similar specification to ADSL.  And much like broadband through phone lines the Satellite service will be always-on, eliminating the need to dial-up.  And the phone line will never be clogged up by Internet calls as happens with dial-up ISPs.

Filling in the Gaps

The purpose of launching broadband satellite services is to explore technologies used to deliver broadband services to rural or remote areas.  Indeed, Satellite broadband is not seen as a competitor to ADSL, which in the short term at least is cheaper and does not require a dish.  However, the service is likely to be attractive in areas where ADSL and other broadband technologies are not available.

In November 2001 BT launched a two-way satellite service aimed specifically at home-based, small and medium sized businesses. The service was initially available to customers in The Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Northern Ireland, and was extended to other areas of the UK in 2002. The initiative was welcomed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise who put GBP250,000 towards the cost of installing broadband satellite in Scottish businesses.

Business Benefits

Whether your business is in the heart of Soho, or in a remote Scottish Glen, the key business benefits of broadband are much the same.

Broadband allows your business to use the Internet as never before.  High bandwidth allows large files to be transferred in seconds rather than minutes.  Email is available instantly - allowing the instant notification of orders.  And broadband means never having to wait for a page to load again.

BT commissioned independent management consultants Fletcher Advisory to conduct a survey of broadband-enabled UK SMEs to find out what the real effect of broadband was having on SMEs and SoHos. The results paint a detailed picture of how fast, always-on access is already benefiting smaller firms on a multitude of levels:

Availability

The full UK rollout of BT Broadband via Satellite is now available subject to local site conditions.

Formats and pricing for BT Broadband products are available at BT Shop including Business Broadband

Tony Harris is President of Business Internet Services, BT, responsible for delivering Internet access services to the small business sector.

Reviewed January 2011

last updated : 21/01/2011



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