Tiscali mulls satellite broadband

BT could see competition in the satellite broadband market - possibly leading to lower prices

Internet communications company Tiscali is planning to launch a satellite broadband service later this year.

Chief operating officer Stephane Huet said the company has been running broadband satellite trials for some time now, but these had not been "overtly successful". Denying that Tiscali would suffer from launching a year behind BT's satellite broadband service, Huet said, "We have waited -- we wanted to make sure we have a scalable, robust product."

New technology due to be introduced this autumn would help improve satellite broadband connections, he said. Tiscali would become only the second company, alongside BT, to offer consumer and small business satellite broadband services, and such a move could help drive competition.

BT's service, which was launched nationwide in March, costs £899 for installation and £60 a month rental, for the consumer version. It is considerably more expensive than BT's ADSL offering.

More recently, BT launched a low-cost version of its satellite broadband service, but this only allows downloads. Customers still need a dial-up connection to send data out.

Satellite broadband is seen by some as the only chance for many rural areas to get high-speed, always-on Internet access. In early August, BT published details of its "trigger levels" -- the number of people in a particular area who would have to sign up to broadband before BT will upgrade their exchange. In some areas, the trigger levels are so high that 20 percent of households would have to pre-register before BT will broadband-enable their exchange.

Huet declined to provide more details about Tiscali's upcoming service, which was announced as the company said it had signed a deal to provide virtual private network (VPN) services to its business customers.

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