Nordnet, the satellite broadband business owned by Orange, has officially launched its satellite broadband service in France.
Neosat, as the offer is known, provides broadband services of up to 100 Mbps to homes and businesses in areas of poor fixed connectivity for less than €40 per month, Nordnet announced on Tuesday.
That’s surprisingly affordable, and nothing like the satellite services of old.
Naturally, it’s not quite that simple. Neosat’s €39.99 tariff plan is a promotional offer that will run until the end of next month. The service normally costs €59.90. And then there are equipment costs on top, such as buying the satellite dish and associated kit for €149, or €299 after the promotional period, or renting the same kit for €8 per month for a minimum of two years.
Nonetheless, that price level is still more akin to a pricey fixed broadband product, And as such, at risk of going slightly overboard, it seems to help establish satellite as a mainstream broadband access technology, as opposed to being a hugely costly and not particularly high-quality option for those in far-flung locations with no other choice. The fact that the service is operated by a major international telecoms group helps to reinforce that feeling, no doubt.
The launch comes as new-generation satellite broadband services start to spring up around the world. The most high-profile is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, whose Starlink low-earth orbit satellites – there are well over 1,000 of them out there now – are providing high-speed, low-latency broadband in various global markets. At present the company is promising speeds of 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps. And there are many other satellite operators – albeit few with pockets as deep as Musk’s – moving to capitalise on a growing market for satellite-based connectivity.
“This technological revolution will help bridge the digital divide in small towns and rural areas,” Nordnet said, in a statement. In places where fibre will never reach, or will be a number of years coming, Neosat provides an immediate solution, it added. “A single satellite is sufficient to ensure complete coverage of mainland France.”
The satellite in question is Eutelsat’s KONNECT multi-beam satellite, which Nordnet claims is the most efficient geostationary communication satellite currently in orbit and the largest built by Thales Alenia Space.
Nordnet is packaging satellite broadband with a fixed-line phone service, including unlimited calls to domestic landlines and mobile phones, plus certain other destinations. Equipment to facilitate TV reception costs €3 per month, while customers can add a decoder for TMT satellite TV channels at €6 per month.
Further, Nordnet is offering a mobile SIM card at an extra cost, although it pledges preferential rates. 1 GB data plans – calls and messages are unlimited – start at €9.99 per month, rising to €24.99 per month for a 70 GB plan. The service, which is only available to Nordnet satellite broadband customers, runs on Orange’s mobile network.
All of which really starts to look like a standard triple- or quad-play tariff from your average telecoms operator, and satellite establishes itself as just another connection method for broadband.