A. It’s an innovative bidirectional satellite broadband service. It provides an always-on internet connection, download speeds of up to 4 Mbit/s and high levels of built-in performance enhancement and security. ASTRA2Connect doesn’t require a separate telephone line and offers genuine triple-play capabilities, so it can be simultaneously used for telephone services (VoIP) and TV reception, allowing households to access more than 1,000 TV and radio channels from our satellites.
A. The customer equipment is very easy to install, set up and operate: all users need is a computer, a satellite modem with an Ethernet interface, an 80cm satellite dish and an interactive LNB. A unique point-and-play alignment tool guarantees that even the dish alignment is well within the capabilities of competent DIYers.
A. Far from it. Satellite broadband is needed because there are millions of homes and businesses across Europe where DSL or cable services are limited or non-existent, and because there are rural and suburban broadband black spots where high-speed terrestrial internet access may never be available. It’s a question of simple economics: it’s just not profitable for private companies to provide terrestrial broadband access to these homes and businesses, particularly in rural areas. It’s expensive and time consuming.
A. It’s a much bigger problem than terrestrial broadband operators want to admit. There are some homes in the UK, for example, that don’t even have a phone line, let alone access to terrestrial broadband. According to recent statistics, up to ten percent of European households lack access to broadband internet. The European Commission has now set itself the goal of providing everyone with at least 1Mbit/s internet access by the end of 2010 - but without satellite this goal is unattainable.
A. It’s proved very successful. We’ve been in the European market for about two years, we already have around 60,000 customers in 16 countries and sales are showing continued solid growth. It’s one of the largest end-user satellite broadband networks outside of the US.
A. Our customers are mainly home users, but 3B’s strong pan-European footprint will allow us to expand and develop low-cost satellite broadband connections for business uses such as data monitoring, collection and controlling (SCADA) systems. Thanks to 3B we recently signed a deal with Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE), an Italian government-owned energy operator, to deploy 5,000 ASTRA2Connect remote terminals across Italy to monitor data from renewable energy plants. The new satellite gives us greater flexibility to offer these types of services to businesses such as utility companies on a truly Europe-wide scale.
A. In fact, we’ve already started with our expansion. Last month we launched in countries in eastern, central and western African via a partnership with Intersat Africa. We will also expand into the Middle East using 3B’s spot beam which is specifically designed for the region. For this we will also partner with Intersat Africa: we have signed a distribution contract and they’ll begin marketing ASTRA2Connect in the Middle East later this year. The service will be slightly different to Europe in that they’ll be offering up to 2 Mbit/s packages using a 100cm dish.