Eutelsat announces the successful launch of e-BIRD, Europe's first satellite specially designed for the provision of 2-way broadband communications. Built by Boeing Satellite Systems, e-BIRD was launched by an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, during the night of September 27 to 28 at 23.14 GMT (1.14 Paris time). After a series of in-orbit tests, the satellite will enter service in November at 33 degrees East and will enable consumer, business and institutional users in Europe, including the UK and Ireland, to access a wider choice of satellite broadband services.
The launch of e-BIRD boosts Eutelsat's commitment to developing resources and technology in Europe that enable satellites to be a key player in bridging the digital divide by serving regions not served by ADSL and other terrestrial broadband technologies. Research undertaken by Analysys Consulting for the DTI stated that as of June 2003 mass-market broadband services are available to 76 per cent of households in the UK. However, this means that a large number of homes, businesses and institutes located in rural areas are unable to access broadband services by terrestrial means. The UK government has set a 2005 target for ensuring schools, libraries, further education colleges and universities have access to broadband connections. This is to be followed by the roll-out of broadband services to other public sector organisations. The Irish Government has set similar targets.
Commenting on the successful launch Eutelsat's CEO Giuliano Berretta
said: "We believe that e-BIRD's unique design breaks new ground in satellite broadband and that this new resource dedicated to Internet applications will truly benefit service providers by enabling them to expand their broadband offer to users who are not served by terrestrial broadband solutions. This new satellite sits beside the roll-out of multimedia platforms which we and our partners have deployed in order to share costs of on-ground central equipment, and efforts to drive down costs of 2-way user terminals as the third pillar in our broadband strategy."
The particular bandwidth efficiency of e-BIRD has been achieved through a mix of transponders that accommodate the asymmetric nature of Internet traffic between requests and content delivery. This configuration has been coupled with high gain beams so that users can have broadband connectivity for high-speed Internet access and Virtual Private Networks via sub one metre antennas. Transmissions to service providers will be routed through the four 108 MHz bandwidth transponders and the return path will be routed through the sixteen 36 MHz bandwidth transponders. Hub stations connected to the Internet backbone will receive the signals from users and send content back in high-power.
Through e-BIRD's proximity to Eutelsat's EUROBIRD 1 satellite at 28.5 degrees East, that broadcasts to nearly 7 million homes in the UK, it will also be possible to bundle digital television and radio channels with one-way broadband services through a double-feed receive antenna.
With capacity commercialised on 23 satellites that provide coverage from the Americas to the Pacific, Eutelsat S.A. is one of the world's leading satellite operators. Eutelsat's satellite infrastructure gives it the flexibility to offer direct-to-home broadcasting, video distribution and contribution services, corporate network solutions and a portfolio of IP applications including broadband Internet access and Internet backbone connections. From its strategic HOT BIRD orbital position at 13 degrees East and other orbital positions, Eutelsat's satellites broadcast more than 1,300 television and 800 radio stations and reach an overall audience of 107 million cable and satellite homes. www.eutelsat.com
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