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Satellite

TIM launches satellite service for the underserved

Telecom Italia (TIM) has gone live with a new satellite-based offering that is set to bring high-speed broadband services to the most difficult to reach areas of Italy.

Although not mentioned in today's release, the new TIM Super Sat service is the result of an agreement signed by TIM and France-based satellite company Eutelsat in November 2020.

TIM said it will offer the 100Mbit/s data-only service (with 5Mbit/s upload) to new customers that are not yet covered by its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) or 5G-based fixed-wireless access (FWA) services.

View from space: TIM's new satellite service is aimed at regions of the country that are physically difficult to connect.   (Source: NASA)
View from space: TIM's new satellite service is aimed at regions of the country that are physically difficult to connect.
(Source: NASA)

TIM Super Sat costs €49.90 (US$43) per month including a satellite kit complete with a satellite dish, a Wi-Fi modem and installation by a technician. It comes with a fair usage policy of 100GB per month at maximum speeds, after which speeds are reduced to 4 Mbit/s (1Mbit/s upload).

The service, as you might expect, comes at something of a premium compared to terrestrial services: TIM currently offers 40Mbit/s 5G FWA services for €29.90 ($26) a month and FTTH with 1Gbit/s speeds also at €29.90 per month.

TIM signed the strategic agreement with Eutelsat as part of its aim to gradually close the digital divide in Italy, covering the most isolated and remote areas of the country.

To be sure, providing broadband coverage throughout the nation remains a challenge. In 2020, Italy ranked 24 out of 27 European Union member states in its take-up of ultrafast Internet of at least 100 Mbit/s, according to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI).

In its 2021 annual report, national statistics agency Istat noted that while Italy's national recovery program has the "ambitious goal" of providing broadband coverage of at least 1 Gbit/s to the entire population by 2025, Italy is currently lagging far behind in the availability of ultra-broadband connections compared with other EU countries.

Konnecting up

Under its agreement, TIM is purchasing the entire transmission capacity for Italy on the two new high-performance satellites that Eutelsat has either activated or will activate in the coming months: the Konnect and Konnect VHTS (very high throughput satellite).

In service since November 2020, Eutelsat Konnect has a total capacity of 75 Gbit/s and is capable of offering speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s in 15 European countries. Konnect VHTS is expected to allow speeds of up to 200 Mbit/s once it comes into operation.

The satellite, due to enter into service in 2022, will also be built by Thales Alenia Space and will have Ka-band capacity of 500 Gbit/s.

Elsewhere in Europe, Eutelsat has reached similar distribution agreements with Orange in France and Deutsche Telekom in Germany.


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For example, DT plans to distribute high-speed satellite broadband to households in the more remote parts of Germany using Eutelsat Konnect from the end of 2021. The operator and Eutelsat are currently piloting an initial deployment in the city of Heimerzheim, where the fixed network was badly affected by the catastrophic flooding earlier in the year.

Orange has contracted to use all available capacity on the Konnect satellite to cover the entire French territory.

Amid all this activity, Eutelsat recently found the time to raise its stake in Britain's OneWeb, from 17.6% to 22.9%, shelling out $165 million to make it happen.

It has also been busy fending off unwanted attention from Patrick Drahi. Just last month Eutelsat shareholders rejected an unsolicited takeover bid from the billionaire controlling shareholder in operator Altice Europe.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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