Eutelsat’s new satellite marks a milestone for building broadband in Europe

Eutelsat announces the successful launch of e-BIRD™ the first satellite in the world specially designed for two-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 (01.14 Paris time). After a series of in-orbit tests, the satellite will enter service in November at 33 degrees East in order to provide coverage of Europe and Turkey.

The launch of e-BIRD™’s satellite 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. With a configuration of multiple spotbeams, each providing high-power regional coverage, e-BIRD™ can contribute to national and pan-European broadband programmes such as the European Union’s e-Europe initiative that aims for all schools, universities and businesses to have access to the Internet by 2005. It is estimated that a quarter of the population and between 10 to 40 per cent of Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union and candidate countries do not have access to broadband today.

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 in Europe by enabling them to expand their broadband offer to users who are not be 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.