New year launch for consumer satellite service

LONDON (12/03/2003) - Digital TV installation specialist AVC Europe Ltd. is set to launch U.K. one way internet-via-satellite access when it introduces three high-speed services in January.

Looking to sign up 80,000 households in the first year, AVC Broadband will piggy back on the ASTRA satellite system, offering an entry level 256Kbps (kilo bits per second) service for £26.99 (US$47) per month, a £34.99 per month 512Kbps service and top speed 768Kbps access for £43.99 per month.

Customers will require a separate narrowband ISP account to dial up to the internet, using a regular phone line and modem as the return path (upstream). In other words, straightforward browsing and downloading will compare favorably with ADSL and cable broadband, but anyone sending a hefty email attachment will get sluggish, dial-up performance. Adding the standard £15.99 per month for flat rate unlimited ISP access and the 512Kbps service is already nearing £50 per month. Stick a further £249.99 on top for installation and an additional £29.99 connection charge and you're looking at a not inconsiderable £800 for the first year.

The news gets worse once you realize hefty usage will almost certainly require customers to invest in a second phone line, or risk the wrath of angry in laws sick of getting an engaged tone every time they call the other half.

The slightly better news is that the company is looking to introduce an email alert system, thereby preventing unnecessary dialups.

As part of the installation AVC Broadband customers get a 48cm elliptical mini dish (or 60cm where required) and USB modem. No Ethernet option will be available.

Transmitting from the same orbital positions as Sky TV, Sky customers won't require an additional dish. Technically savvy Sky viewers can opt for a DIY option, paying £20 for the necessary quad LNB (this allows the dish to receive internet access on top of digital TV broadcasts).

A spokesman for AVC Broadband told PC Advisor that no joint marketing initiatives with Sky TV were planned.

Non Sky TV customers will get a standard free-to-air digital TV package offering 32 TV channels and 90 radio stations.

In addition to making the product available through its own digital TV installation engineers, AVC is hoping to recruit interest from electrical and PC retailers based in broadbandless rural locations.

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