BT to test low-cost satellite broadband

BT is planning to trial a satellite-based service that will give rural computer users Internet access at speeds many times faster than by dial-up, though only half the speed of an ADSL connection.

The telco's wholesale division said on Monday that the trial is due to start in late May, and will run for six months. It's not yet clear which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will take part in the trial, or how much it will cost, but BT has said that the trial wholesale price will be less than the $21 (£15) per month that ADSL costs--suggesting that users will pay less than $43 (£29.99) per month. There is also a $575 (£400) fee to cover the cost of supplying and connecting the satellite dish.

The product is aimed at small businesses that need constant access to Web services such as e-mail, but who cannot get broadband via their phone line because BT hasn't yet ADSL-enabled their local exchange.

The satellite service gives a download speed of up to 256 kilobits per second (kbps), compared to the maximum speed of 512kbps promised by ADSL. Higher speeds, up to four megabits per second, will be available when a user needs to download a large amount of data quickly. Unlike most other broadband products, though, this satellite service only works in one direction. Sent e-mail and requests to download a Web page must be sent upstream via the phone line.

News source: ZDNet News

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