Satellite internet access to rival broadband

French researchers have developed a satellite internet technology to rival broadband in cost and speed, they claimed this week.

The technology, from Paris-based Eutelsat, allows businesses to transmit training and product videos to outlets and offices, while families could send home movies to relatives at 2Mb per second.

The service also provides fast internet access, streamed television channels and a ‘push’ multimedia service that sends video, text and audio files to the user when requested.

Satellite internet services have been launched before but they have not allowed users to send multimedia data.

A spokesman said that to use the package users need their desktop computer to be linked to a satellite dish. For the basic task of accessing the internet they start by dialling up their normal internet service provider via the telephone line. But during the log-in process they are identified as satellite users.

The internet can then be searched as usual but when a request is made for a web page, file or video stream, the data is sent directly to the satellite service provider rather than back down the phone line.

This data is combined with all other requests made from the PC and linked to the appropriate Eutelsat satellite, which then sends the requested files down to the user’s dish.

To send pictures, sound or text, users transmit the data to the ISP via the phone line for satellite distribution. While this may take slightly longer than receiving information, the transmission speed could be improved by using cable connections.

Although internet access and watching television on a PC is not new, Eutelsat’s push service will enable computer users to watch pay-per-view programmes and use video-on-demand services. It will provide a menu enabling users to choose which services they want and when they want to download them.

With a similar price to ADSL Eutelsat hopes take-up will be rapid, a spokesman said.

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