Avanti launches HYLAS 1 satellite

Following three years of development, Avanti Communications Group has launched the HYLAS 1 satellite to provide broadband in rural areas across Europe.

Avanti’s HYLAS 1 satellite was launched via Ariane 5

The company aims to provide broadband access to hundreds of thousands of rural residents and businesses across Europe, including the UK, and help enable usage at cost effective prices in order to bridge the digital divide. UK operator BT has partnered with the satellite provider to expand next-generation access as part of its broadband push in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, with the aim to extend its reach in other parts of the UK.

David Williams, chief executive at Avanti, said: “This is a landmark launch for many consumers and businesses across Europe, who have been frustrated by the lack of access to adequate broadband and it means that finally there is the opportunity to solve the digital divide.”

Avanti’s second satellite, named HYLAS 2, is scheduled to launch in 2012 to provide further coverage in Europe and provide an extended footprint in the Middle East and Africa. December also saw the final funding round for the infrastructure of rival satellite provider O3b, which will provide broadband access in emerging markets. A total of $1.2 billion was raised for the deployment (see news analysis on page 16).  Williams was critical of O3b’s business model, claiming the prices it plans to charge for broadband services are unrealistic for its target markets.

“O3b cannot provide lastmile access, as its service only provides international fibre substation to telecoms switches,” says Williams. “The notion that it brings internet to the ‘other three billion’ is therefore misleading.”

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