The Global Satellite Operators Association (GSOA) with the support of the European Commission has created an online tool that helps citizens to find a local distributor who can supply them with immediate connectivity no matter where they live.
Satellite Broadband, also referred to as internet-by-satellite, is a high-speed bi-directional Internet connection made typically via geostationary communications satellites (GEO, geostationary orbit), Medium Earth orbit (MEO) or low Earth orbit (LEO) instead of a telephone landline or other terrestrial means. Today satellite broadband is completely comparable with DSL broadband in terms of both performance and cost, with commercial offerings of triple play (internet, TV and voice with the same internet). MEO and LEO satellite constellations offer relatively low latency (40-125 ms) and download speeds of 50-100 Mbps. Check the section Wireless broadband technologies for more details on technologies as well as pros & cons.
While fibre offers superior performance, it takes more time and is more expensive to roll out and so will not be available to all users within the next years. On the contrary, satellite solutions are available immediately. This is the only broadband solution for those who live in areas without or with slow terrestrial, wireless or mobile broadband access.
Affordable and easy to install
Satellite broadband is cost effective, with monthly subscriptions comparable with equivalent performance ADSL offers. Users receive a dish and modem and can either install these themselves, or call on the expertise of a vast network of highly trained engineers. The average purchase price across the EU for consumer equipment is EUR 350. This initial cost is often eligible for European public funding, and some Member States and regions have used this opportunity to close their digital divides cost-effectively and quickly.
About the technology
Connecting to the Internet via satellite means installing a small satellite dish outside a house, flat, school or other building. As long as the dish can see the sky, one should easily be able to connect to the Internet. The satellite modem needs to be plugged into a computer and no telephone connection is required. The dish can be installed by homeowners directly or by a professional installer. The quality of service is comparable to DSL and users can access a full range of Internet applications such as surfing the web, emailing, VOIP, downloading music or watching videos.
European funding for satellite broadband access
The European Union's aim is to maximise broadband connectivity for all citizens regardless of their location in the EU. Satellite broadband is often the only broadband solution for those who live in areas with no or very poor connectivity. Voucher schemes have been successfully implemented in some Member States to connect remote communities using satellite broadband. Under such a scheme, a public authority provides financial aid (a voucher) to eligible end users with which they can ‘pay’ a registered service provider of their choice for the purchase, installation and activation of satellite user equipment. The service provider seeks reimbursement of his costs from the public authority implementing the scheme. Please refer to the Guidelines on State aid for broadband networks for more details.
Satellite technology projects in Europe
The SABER project (finalised) brought together regional authorities and stakeholders in order to tackle the Digital Divide in EU-27 and to ensure broadband coverage for all. The initiative established the conditions for the efficient and effective contribution of satellite systems to support the achievement of the objectives set in the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE).
The BRESAT project (finalised) provided information on the broadband coverage by region, case studies of satellite broadband deployments, key criteria and best practices for successful deployments, potential sources of funding, cost-benefit analysis, guidelines for business case development as well as hosting workshops and dissemination events across Europe.