Bandwidth sharing reduces remote Internet access cost

Telesat Monday launched a North America-wide high speed Internet service it said can reach business customers in the corners of Canada where the competition cuts out.

Steve Lowe, director of North American business solutions

sales for the BCE Inc. subsidiary, said United States-based competitors like Hughes Network Systems Inc.’s Direcway only reach the southern parts of Canada, while the Telesat High Speed Internet service covers all 13 provinces and territories. As well, Telesat, which manages allocation of bandwidth for the service, is pursuing only business users.

“”The other services are shared with consumer bandwidth and ours will only be for enterprises,”” Lowe said.

Canadian customers are served via Telesat’s Anik E2 satellite, while sites in the U.S. are reached through a partnership with Gilat Satellite Network Ltd.’s Spacenet Inc., which uses the GE-6 satellite. The two-way service offers download speeds of up to 500 kilobits per second and upload speeds of up to 153 kbps.

Gregg Patterson, sales director for Ottawa-based RAMTelecom, one of two Canadian resellers of Telesat’s new service, said users realize speeds about 70 per cent of typical digital subscriber line (DSL) service in an urban area.

In contrast with Telesat’s Anikom 200 private satellite service, the new high-speed service involves bandwidth sharing. This, along with falling terminal costs and speculative subsidization, makes high-speed Internet more affordable for those outside of DSL-served areas, Lowe said

“”One of the biggest changes from now to five years ago is that the terminal price has gone way down,”” Lowe said, adding Telesat has invested to keep the price low in hopes of recouping more later. “”We’ve taken some risk up front and (will) spread that across all our users.””

Telesat is offering the service directly to its existing clientele as well as to customers ordering 200 or more terminals, while RAMTelecom and Vancouver-based Infosat Telecommunications are reselling the service mainly to the SOHO market. RAMTelecom is marketing only to Canada for the time being, while Infosat is also looking for business south of the border.

For those bulk orders, Telesat’s rates are competitive with those of Bell Nexxia, about $150 and $400 per terminal per month, Lowe said. RAMTelecom and Infosat, which fill smaller orders, charge between $225 and $425 per month as well as between $2,000 and $3,000 for each terminal set up.

Infosat product manager Richard Lynch said the speeds offered by Telesat’s new service were available to rural and remote communities with private connections long before Monday’s announcement, “”but you’re looking at approximately five times the cost.”” Users willing to spend big for their own networks included banks and resource companies, some of which will migrate over to the new, more affordable service.

Lowe said those private connections are still essential for users whose security needs go beyond virtual private networks, and the new high speed offering will for them be a complimentary service.

Perhaps the largest market for the new service will be businesses with branch offices that can’t justify spending for their own private network. Before Monday’s announcement, the only option for these companies was to wait for what Patterson calls a “”community champion”” to make the initial investment in a broadband access service and set up an ISP service for users in the area.

While RAMTelecom will continue to offer this type of service, Patterson said the new Telesat service allows it to serve non-urban schools, lawyers, insurance agents and other satellite office employees directly. He said DSL connections become extremely spotty just 20 miles outside of Ottawa, making an affordable satellite service very attractive to companies with head offices in an urban centre and handfuls of employees stationed in less built-up areas.

“”We’re going to concentrate in the smaller centres where they do have offices and no ability to connect,”” he said. “”The main office will be in downtown Toronto (for example) and satellite offices will be from here to Never Never Land.””

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