Astra2Connect Promises Faster Broadband in 2012

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The Astra2Connect satellite consumer broadband service operated by satellite fleet operator SES of Luxembourg will be offering consumer broadband terminals for less than 200 euros ($280) starting in 2012, a development the company says will be accompanied by increased throughput rates of 20 megabits per second for subscribers by late 2012.

Patrick Biewer, managing director of Astra Broadband Services, said the service, which now has more than 80,000 subscribers in Ku-band on SES satellites, has grown by 50 percent per year since 2008. Its annual churn is less than 14.5 percent, meaning a monthly subscriber defection rate of less than 2 percent — in line with U.S. satellite broadband figures.

SES has contracted with Newtec of Belgium and Gilat of Israel to design a new generation of terminals to work with both the existing Ku-band Astra2Connect service and a Ka-band offering expected within three years. SES has contracted with Astrium Services of Europe to build satellites whose main Ku-band payload will provide SES direct-broadcast television in Europe, with a Ka-band payload to develop the consumer broadband business.

This Ka-band capacity will be used for up to 200,000 Astra2Connect subscribers in four European markets, starting with Germany and France, Biewer said.