Germany poised to lead in broadband over satellite

Soon Germans will need to find an excuse why they don’t have a high-speed Internet connection. Not only does Germany boast the most line-based Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connections in Europe, the country also is poised to take the lead in the rollout of broadband services provided over satellites.

This month Deutsche Telekom AG (DT) in Bonn, Germany, and Hot Telecommunications (Deutschland) GmbH in Griesheim, Germany, a fully owned company of Hughes Network Systems Europe in Darmstadt, Germany, launched an array of new satellite broadband services. The operators join others, such as Strato AG in Berlin, that are seeking either to extend their DSL footprint or target new customer groups with their satellite broadband offerings.

DT’s satellite service is aimed specifically at private and small business users the operator can’t reach with its wireline DSL service. About 10 per cent of the population will not be covered by its land-based offering, according to spokesman Walter Genz. “We said from the start that we won’t be able to extend DSL to all parts of Germany for cost reasons, so this is a solution aimed to fill the gaps,” he said. “The satellite service is not aimed at potential DSL customers because they’re clearly better off with a fixed-line service. It’s cheaper.”

DT is partnering with SES Global SA of Luxembourg, which operates the Astra satellite. The service provides a 768Kbps downlink via satellite and a 64Kbps or tunnelled 124Kbps over the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) channel. Users require an Astra dish and either a Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) PC card or DVB Universal Serial Bus (USB) set-top box. They can choose between two tariffs: