Eutelsat to expand broadband multimedia services

FRANCE: Eutelsat has awarded contracts to ViaSat for two broadband satellite networking systems and development of a future Ka-band system. The systems will enable Eutelsat to take full advantage of its new high-powered satellites to offer a wider range of services at more attractive prices than with other VSAT systems.

Eutelsat has signed an agreement to deploy up to 10,000 ViaSat LinkStar broadband VSATs over the next two years. In addition, to begin consumer broadband service trials, Eutelsat will use ViaSat's new consumer/SOHO broadband system called SurfBeam. The services are all slated to use Eutelsat's new Hot Bird 6, launched in August, which features 28 Ku-band and 4 Ka-band transponders, as well as the rest of the Eutelsat fleet.

An official release informs that the value of the development contracts is in excess of $2.5 million. Also included is a two-year ordering agreement for LinkStar. Already the owner of three LinkStar DVB-compatible hubs, Eutelsat will now partner more closely with the Comsat Laboratories division of ViaSat in implementing a true DVB-RCS (Digital Video Broadcasting -- Return Channel Satellite) standard network for enterprise services across Europe. Under this new contract for LinkStar, ViaSat will develop system software in addition to supplying subscriber terminals.

LinkStar will enhance current Eutelsat multimedia services targeting enterprise customers using Ku-band satellite bandwidth. LinkStar provides an efficient broadband IP satellite network for corporate Internet access, video conferencing, distance education and VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). Each remote site on the LinkStar network shares a broadband DVB receive channel up to 60 Mbps and can transmit data back through the hub at speeds up to 1.1 Mbps.

SurfBeam for Consumer/SOHO Services : Eutelsat will implement consumer broadband services with SurfBeam, a completely new approach to satellite networking. SurfBeam is the first two-way satellite system expressly developed with the complete set of features and infrastructure to support service for the high volume, consumer market at prices competitive with terrestrial alternatives. The system leverages the cable modem networking standard called DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) to lower the cost of consumer terminals, enable easy self-installation for customers, and provide mature back office, billing and network control software to network providers.

Eutelsat will first integrate the SurfBeam system into its Rombouillet facility, then work with ViaSat on consumer and SOHO service trials during the second quarter of the year. Eutelsat plans to begin making the service available, primarily to European ISPs, in the second half of 2003.

Skyplex for Future Broadband Multimedia : Eutelsat and ViaSat's Comsat Laboratories are also developing a new Ka-band broadband system called Skyplex, aimed at the coming market for high-speed multimedia communications. Higher frequency Ka-band satellites promise smaller, lower-cost terminals and reduced satellite air-time costs. In addition, Skyplex is designed to be the world's first multimedia satellite network to feature multiplexing of digital television, radio, and data on-board the satellite. The system will be able to collect uplink signals from many sources, in many locations, package them on-board the satellite and deliver them to consumer digital receivers on the ground. Customers will avoid long video backhauls to a central location and smaller or regional content providers will find it easier to contribute programming.

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