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« A solution to bridge the Digital Divide »

Interview with Olivier Anstett, Deputy Director Media and Value Added Services of EUTELSAT.

Can you explain Eutelsat and Tooway in a few words ?
Eutelsat is a French group, European leader and the third largest global operator in the field of satellite telecommunications. The Tooway service, thanks to a new generation of satellite called KA-SAT, launched in 2010, provides universal broadband access to people located in Europe, North Africa, Turkey and the Middle East, who today are unable to receive a good quality service.

What are the characteristics of this satellite ?
It is the first European satellite designed exclusively for the internet. It uses a band frequency called Ka, which is much more concentrated than the Ku band, and which transmits the flow of more information through narrower beams. KA-SAT provides a total of 82 Spot Beams, of which 4 cover the whole United Kingdom territory. Combined, these two technologies allow more than 30 times the total capacity of traditional satellites, and therefore reduce considerably the cost for the final user..

Why is it important to benefit from access to Broadband Internet ?
Being connected to the internet is to make access possible to more than 600 million sites globally and to communicate with anyone in the world. Thanks to broadband performance, this connection is simple, quick and permanent for accessing texts, music, photos, videos or films. Not being able to access the Internet is a handicap we call the Digital Divide. Using Tooway, via the KA-SAT satellite, we estimate 30 million individuals could now have internet access where it is not supplied by the regional ADSL network.

Does Tooway actually offer Broadband access to its subscribers ?
The performance of Broadband internet with Tooway is comparable, if not superior quite often to those of ADSL, where the quality of service is proportional to the distance between the subscriber and the access server. We offer our customers a maximum connection speed of 20 megabits in “downstream connection” and 6 megabits in “upload connection”, the capacity of ADSL is around 1 megabit (1Mbit / s ADSL), which is six times less.
In the United States, in its latest report on the evolution of Internet access across the country, the Regulator of Telecommunications (Federal Communication Commission) found significant improvements in the quality of satellite Internet, particularly at the proposed rates. The authority added that many ISPs specializing in this field actually provide or exceed the speeds they advertise in their commercial offers, which is not always the case for other Internet technologies.

An access speed of 1 megabit can be sufficient for moderate internet use, and transmission of files that are less “heavy”?
Of course, as the internet offers numerous and increasing possibilities, such as access to “clouds” for example, or for sharing data in “Drop box” applications, it is a pity not make use of it. 

Many internet users lament the difference between the promised performance offered by the suppliers of access to internet and actual performance. What is it for Tooway ?
We commit to our promises. The rates of downloading and speed of access are clear. Simply, we aim to equally share the resource across the group of our subscribers. Downloading HD films, for example, can take some time and this is why two of our packages include unlimited night access, from 2300 to 0700, when the traffic is less busy. Only real-time online games are not compatible with satellite transmission. This is because the time of reply between the action of a player and its translation into the play are restricted by around a quarter of a second due to the speed of light from the home to the satellite and back.

Are your costs comparable to those of broadband Internet ADSL ?
They are very attractive and start at £16.95 per month. Additionally, with a view to reduce the infamous “digital divide”, numerous local authorities offer subsidies for the purchase of installation kit for a satellite dish. More specific information on these grants are available in the section (to be completed) of this site. Tooway offers to its subscribers the possibility to rent – not just to buy – the necessary satellite dish for connection with the KA-SAT satellite.

How do you subscribe to Internet Broadband via satellite with Tooway ?
Just contact one of the trained and authorised distributors of Tooway. Their telephone number… (to be completed) They can install the satellite dish and connect the customer’s computer, and suggest additional services as well, such as “triple play” which allows, in addition to the internet, access to television channels by satellite and to “voice over IP”, the telephone service via internet.

Can we install the satellite dish ourselves ?
Yes, without any problem. The “KA-SAT finder” application, downloadable free on iPhone or Android, allows you to check the accessibility to Tooway from the house where you wish to use the satellite and gives the instructions for its installation. However, if the orientation of the antenna requires that it is positioned in a difficult place to access, on a roof for example, it is better to entrust the satellite installation to an authorised agent of Tooway, to ensure it is carried out safely.

Does it operate in any weather ?
With its 82 high power spots, the KA-SAT satellite is much less sensitive to climatic changes than its predecessors. There needs to be very bad weather to affect the satellite links. The Tooway satellite dish even operates perfectly under a few centimetres of snow.

Does it present a health risk to those who live nearby ?
None. The waves emitted by the satellite dish are of a significantly less power than those of a simple mobile telephone, and they are specifically oriented towards the KASAT satellite.

Your concluding word ?
In its last report on the digital agenda, the European Commission stated that access to Internet Broadband by satellite constitutes a means to fight against digital division. The quality of the satellite link via KA-SAT is revolutionary, reinforcing again the importance of such a solution. The 2013 Measuring Broadband America, Consumer wireline broadband performance in the U.S., February 2013, Federal Communication Commission (FCC).

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