Hylas-1 is bringing Europe broadband from the sky. This 'Highly Adaptable Satellite' is our continent's first geostationary satellite dedicated to high-speed Internet, rolling out broadband connectivity to hundreds of thousands of Europeans.
Gaps in connection
It is hard to imagine modern life without broadband, for most of us at least. The high cost of extending terrestrial broadband networks, however, means that many Europeans still do not have the high-speed connectivity that the rest take for granted.
Access to broadband is increasingly recognised as economically and socially essential – even mandated by some nations as a fundamental human right. But the fact remains that tens of millions of Europeans remain deprived of it.
Terrestrial broadband access is based on on extensive communications infrastructure, which it is often uneconomic to extend into more remote areas. Some 13 million European homes and businesses fall within such 'notspots', finding them with no way of accessing high-speed Internet. There is little indication the situation will improve significantly within the coming decade.
Flexible cross-European coverage
But Hylas-1 is capable of connecting up even the remotest corners of Europe - from Ireland in the west to Greece in the east, Denmark in the north to Italy and Spain in the south, simultaneously serving widely-dispersed collections of end-users.
Thanks to continuous improvements in telecommunications technology, satellites have become an efficient method of getting Europe online. Geography presents no obstacle: from city suburbs to rural villages, remote islands to high mountains, anyone within the satellite ‘footprint’ can obtain a broadband link.
ESA has devoted years to developing satellite broadband technologies through its ARTES (Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems) initiative. Now several of these innovations are being put to work aboard Hylas-1. The mission’s flexible payload technology can vary its data throughput across the European regions it serves, keeping pace with market demand.
Serving a developing market
Hylas-1 serves as an excellent case study of the added value that ESA provides to Europe's economy. As one of the few worldwide space agencies tasked with responsibility for industrial competitiveness and market development as well as basic exploration and technology research and development, ESA can collaborate with industry to leverage new technologies swiftly into sustainable business applications.
Joining forces with commercial operator Avanti Communications means that Europe’s advanced telecom technologies reach orbit much more rapidly and economically than otherwise. The Hylas-1 public–private partnership drives the technical state-of-the-art forward in space while efficiently serving a fast-developing market.
Last update: 1 December 2010