Europe's first dedicated satellite to offer broadband services across Europe is to launch this evening at 18:39 from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana aboard an Arianne 5 rocket. The satellite, HYLAS, is a commercial venture by Avanti Communications, a London based company with funding from the UK government.
HYLAS will be able to deliver up to 10Mbps broadband throughout its coverage area through satellite services in the Ka-band, and could provide this to 350,000 subscribers. Prices are expected to start from around £25 per month for a basic 2Mbps service.
"This is a landmark day for the many consumers and businesses across Europe, who have been frustrated by lack of access to adequate broadband, it means that finally there is the opportunity to solve the digital divide.
The launch of our satellite today means that access to broadband in remote areas is no longer on the distant horizon.
For Avanti it is a proud achievement to launch the first broadband satellite in Europe. There is a real double benefit here, providing a solution for communities, companies and Governments who need effective broadband, and for our investors who, with us, know there is significant unmet demand which we can tap into. But this is just the beginning for us with our further satellites in the pipeline."David Williams (Chief Executive), Avanti PLC
The company will also be launching a second satellite in spring 2012, HYLAS 2, which will be able to offer similar services to 700,000 customers further across Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa.
Avanti won't be alone for long however, as rival company Eutelsat will be launching their own dedicated satellite for broadband services offering similar 10Mbps capabilities to Europe on the 20th of December.
For those interested, the launch can be watched live online.