Satellite and fibre markets are different, says Eutelsat

Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat says it does not fear competition from fibre-based ultra high-speed broadband services, because it targets different consumers, Eutelsat CEO Michel de Rosen told La Tribune.

In France, for example, there are still three million homes without digital terrestrial TV (DTT) coverage due to topography or proximity to borders, he said. As for internet access, Eutelsat sees its natural hunting ground as rural areas, rather than big cities.

Rosen said that it costs 20 times more to deploy fibre in the countryside than in cities, making it unviable for telecommunications operators. The French government has launched an ICT stimulus plan to enable all homes and businesses to connect to ultra high-speed broadband services, including HD and 3D TV, by 2025.

Eutelsat’s Fransat satellite TV service, carrying the country’s DTT channels, has been in operation for one year and has attracted several hundred thousand subscriber homes to date, although only a fraction of the country’s French regions have switched off their analogue TV signals so far.

Rosen refers to North America, where over one million homes have satellite internet, and to Europe, where the figure stands at nearly 100,000 households. Eutelsat is launching its important Ka-Sat satellite next year to extend its Tooway service, raising bandwidth to 6-10 Mbps, versus 3 Mbps at present. The satellite’s footprint covers more than 1 million homes, one-fifth of which are in France.

He added that Eutelsat would invest €450 million, on average, over the next three years. In its last fiscal year it invested €494 million, or about half of its turnover.

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