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The promise of Ka-band is simple but profound: More capacity at faster speeds to smaller dishes. That means more choices and affordable options for more users.
The promise is already being realized in North America where Hughes leads the consumer satellite broadband market with more than 620,000 HughesNet®; subscribers. And now it’s making an impact in Europe where there are an estimated 30 million households and small businesses without access to high-speed terrestrial broadband.
Thanks to a partnership between Avanti Communications Group plc and Hughes, this underserved market will now be able to get high-speed Internet by satellite. In April 2011, Avanti launched broadband service via its HYLAS 1 satellite, Europe’s first dedicated high-throughput Ka-band broadband satellite, which will be followed in 2012 by the launch of HYLAS 2. Hughes is supplying all the ground systems and customer terminals for both satellites and has also acquired capacity from Avanti to deliver broadband services, both to its own customers and indirectly through value-added resellers and distributors.
To date, Avanti has deployed more than 3,000 HN9200 terminals on HYLAS 1, enabling up to 10 Mbps download speeds to residential customers in Scotland and Ireland. In addition, Avanti resellers have taken delivery of more than 10,000 terminals that will connect customers in other parts of Europe.
Employing three gateway stations equipped with 48 HN System hubs, HYLAS 2 will provide even greater coverage—all of Europe and parts of the Middle East and Africa. Hughes expects to deliver equipment in late 2011 and early 2012, and launch of live services is scheduled for the second quarter of 2012. The combined capacity of the two satellites will reach approximately one million users, including consumers, small businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and armed services personnel.
Avanti and Hughes are employing a multi-layered distribution strategy to bring high-speed Internet service quickly to the highest number of customers possible. Avanti is providing service through resellers in 23 countries using Hughes equipment. Hughes Europe is also directly setting up resellers; for example, leading international satellite services provider Bentley Walker has purchased an initial quantity of HN terminals to deliver Ka-band Internet services to the consumer broadband market in the U.K.
In a third approach to the market, Hughes and Avanti are working together to support the rural broadband projects of European countries through major telecom operators such as British Telecom, Telecom Italia, and Telefonica.
The Avanti-Hughes Ka-band initiative provides an ideal opportunity for resellers to extend their reach into the lucrative consumer market with a high-speed Internet offering, particularly in rural and remote areas—broadening the scope of their own solution offerings such as security, telephone, and integrated router systems.
“By working with Hughes and Avanti, a reseller gets the best-branded satellite networking equipment, service, and support in the world,” said Chris Britton, managing director, Hughes Europe. “It adds instant credibility when a satellite service is powered by Hughes equipment.”
“We don’t want to just ship terminals,” added Britton. “Our strategy is to provide the best ongoing support and training to ensure resellers succeed—some of whom may be entering the satellite Internet market for the first time.”
Recognizing that Internet access empowers its citizens by linking them to the vast reservoir of information that is the Web, the European Union has made universal broadband coverage its target by 2013. Many European countries are funding local “Broadband Everywhere” initiatives to expand coverage as quickly as possible. For example, British Telecom has purchased bandwidth from Avanti along with Hughes terminals to support a broadband initiative in Cornwall, England.
“We know there is not a single solution,” said Britton. “It will take multiple technologies to bring broadband everywhere. Satellite is a significant player and is especially valuable in supporting developing businesses as countries come out of recession. Compounded by the drive towards cloud computing, high-speed Internet by satellite enables smaller communities to grow in their own environments and employ local people—thereby spreading the wealth and improving the overall economy.”
While Avanti is tackling the underserved broadband market in Europe, Star Satellite Communications Company PJSC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PrJSC (Yahsat), is making similar strides in the Middle East and Africa. Based in the United Arab Emirates, Yahsat launched its first broadband Ka-band satellite, Yahsat 1A, in 2011 for military use, and will launch its second satellite, Yahsat 1B, later this year to provide services for the commercial market.
In addition to supplying all the ground system equipment, including high-performance, Ka-band HN hubs, gateways, and customer terminals, Hughes will also provide outsourced Operational Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS) services for Yahsat 1B. Spearheading the industry’s move to high-capacity Ka-band satellite systems, the Hughes HN9200 and HN9400 series of routers are specifically designed to deliver the maximum performance on today’s Ku- and Ka-band platforms, while being future-proof for next-generation high-throughput systems. Hughes made its first shipment of HN System gateway equipment and satellite terminals to Yahsat in August.
Yahsat will leverage the high-throughput capability of Yahsat 1B and the Hughes HN System to provide its YahClick Ka-band broadband Internet access and other applications to large and small enterprises, governments, and consumers in 26 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Southwest Asia. Service is expected to launch in 2012.
The Yahsat initiative is the first mass market consumer broadband satellite offering in the region, with a range of YahClick service plans of up to 5 Mbps, initially targeted to rural and remote areas with limited broadband access. The offering will also provide more choices to urban customers.
“Partnering with Hughes will help Yahsat to fast-track the rapid rollout of YahClick service in 27 countries during 2012,” said Jassem Mohamed Al Zaabi, CEO of Yahsat. “YahClick will bring the Internet to millions of underserved and unserved people and organizations at costs comparable to terrestrial services.”
“The market has migrated towards satellite because of its affordability, scalability, and reliability,” said Soheil Mehrabanzad, assistant vice president for Hughes in the Middle East and Africa. “Bringing high-quality and high-speed Internet by satellite to consumers in the region will make an enormous difference to the quality of life of its citizens.”
Now that it’s been unleashed, there’s no stopping the Ka-band wave. The success of HughesNet in North America is now poised to be repeated in Europe, the Middle East and soon in Russia, Latin America, and Australia—all with numerous Ka-band initiatives being planned And it should be no surprise that the leader in broadband satellite networks and services today will continue to power the growth of new Ka-band customers across the globe in the future.