Satellite broadband now a more viable option

1 Feb 2006

Satellite broadband is now a more realistic and viable option for businesses and consumers following the development of ‘latency-free’ satellite services, according to the owner and founder of Meath-based internet service provider (ISP) Ildana Teoranta, which was acquired this week by Pure Telecom for an undisclosed fee.

Clonee-based Ildana Teoranta was established by John Murphy in 2001 and the company now provides satellite broadband connectivity and high-end data services such as voice over IP (VoIP), virtual private networks (VPNs) and business continuity services to SME and large corporate customers as well as connectivity to community initiatives such as the Group Broadband Scheme, which operates in communities under-served by existing providers.

More than 75 communities, including business and residential users, are currently using Ildana’s proprietary custom-made service across Donegal, Galway, Limerick, Kerry, Meath, Clare, Wicklow and Monaghan.

Ildana Teoranta, which will continue to operate under its own name, has developed a proprietary satellite broadband solution that overcomes all the problems associated with satellite in the past such as latency, security and costs. The solution optimises available bandwidth to bring in bulk data connectivity via bespoke satellite and redistributing it locally using wireless. Subscribers only pay wireless access prices, which start at €30 inclusive of VAT. It also overcomes the inherent round-trip time of other satellite services, often referred to as latency, meaning it can facilitate high-quality VPNs, VoIP and data backup.

Murphy told the company’s satellite technology guarantees full data security over a wireless link and uses military-grade encryption. Contention ratios are also low, guaranteeing a more efficient service than alternative broadband services.

Pure Telecom expects a strong demand for these new services, which the company predicts will boost its annual turnover by €3m. Commenting on the deal Paul Connell, owner and director of Pure Telecom, said: “This acquisition means we can offer a highly differentiated product and service that caters for a large part of Ireland’s population — businesses and individuals who have either no access to broadband or an inadequate and expensive service.

“And with advanced applications like VoIP, VPNs and data backup dependent on a quality broadband service to run efficiently, these same businesses and individuals now have access to additional services that can add value to and simplify their operations,” Connell said.

Ildana’s Murphy acknowledged that up until now satellite broadband had been given a bad name due to latency issues but mostly due to the unpredictability of satellite coverage. “The distance between a satellite dish and a satellite is about 40,000km. Coverage generally doesn’t vary but what does vary is the mechanism companies use to communicate with the satellite. It’s mostly a case of who shouts loudest,” Murphy explained.

He continued: “It’s like the difference between a well ordered meeting where everybody gets a chance to speak and a student’s union meeting where no one gets a word in edgeways. Whether Ireland likes it or not, in terms of satellite coverage we are the Outer Hebrides of Europe and most satellites are designed for the most populated areas of Europe. Ireland gets the crumbs from the UK. Most commercial offerings don’t work this far west.

“As long as you have a predictable channel, whereby the system gets heard every 120 milliseconds, you can build bomb-proof VPN access. We built a ‘link budget’ calculation system to ensure the best network capability that ensures broadband connectivity rates of 32Mbps download and 8Mbps upload. Voice over IP quality is no different to that of a mobile phone call,” Murphy explained, adding that the company’s research and development efforts were funded through the support of the European Space Agency and the South West Regional Authority.

Caption: John Murphy, technical director, Ildana; with Paul Connell and Alan McGonnell, Pure Telecom directors

By John Kennedy