Intelsat to provide satellite-based broadband direct-to-home service in Middle East

LONDON: In a joint venture with Orbit Data Systems Limited (ODSL), Intelsat announced plans for a two-way, satellite-based broadband Internet access service to be available directly to consumers and small office/home office users in the Middle East, today.

According to the multi-year agreement signed, Intelsat will provide the integrated, end-to-end network connectivity, while ODSL will be responsible for sales, marketing and retail distribution of the service in the Middle East region. Intelsat-provided gateway required for ODSL's service has been installed in Perth, Australia, and is operating a beta service to facilitate the service launch.

The service is expected to be launched later this year and will provide consumers with capabilities for web browsing, email, file transfer, audio/video streaming and distance learning at high speeds, says a company release.

The broadband offering will be provided using a platform based on the data over cable service interface specification (DOCSIS) standard and Ku-band satellite capacity on an Intelsat satellite. Existing DOCSIS technology and software, previously used to support cable-based applications, have been modified by Intelsat's equipment supplier ViaSat, to enable satellite-based broadband access.

User terminals that incorporate ViaSat's SurfBeam DOCSIS-based platform will be provided to ODSL by Intelsat. ODSL will be responsible for installing the user terminals and for providing call centers and customer support. ODSL is an affiliate of Orbit Communications Company, a provider of digital pay television services in the Middle East.

According to ODSL general manager Dr Mohammed Omar, "The combination of teamwork and ingenuity from Intelsat and ODSL on this venture will benefit the industry and its customers by making high-speed Internet available to people living in the Middle East. This service is part of the bundled services Orbit intends to provide to its customer base in the region. A partner like Intelsat, with its strong reputation, regional presence and customer focus, is key to our meeting increasing customer demand for high-speed Internet services in the region."

Says Intelsat COO Ramu Potarazu, "This venture represents a significant commitment to making broadband technologies accessible to people living in regions where terrestrial infrastructure is limited. Intelsat pioneered Internet over satellite, so it is only natural that we'd be the company to take broadband technology to the next level, where it can be easily implemented and available cost-effectively to anyone who needs it."

According to ViaSat CEO Mark Dankberg, "The deployment of this DOCSIS-based satellite system represents a significant step in working toward establishing a new standard for these types of applications. Additionally, consumers can look forward to paying a lower cost for high-speed access because the SurfBeam terminals are based on the DOCSIS standard, which has been widely used in cable modems worldwide."

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