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Teles To Offer Satellite-Based DSL Access in France, UK

German company Teles A.G. plans to market its satellite-based SkyDSL Internet access in France and the UK starting in January.

"We are conducting final tests on the system here and the service will be definitively launched in France and Britain in about three weeks," said Gilbert Halfon, a press spokesman at Teles's branch in France.

SkyDSL, which reportedly generates throughput of up to 4MB per second, has been available in Germany for six months.

In November Teles signed a partnership agreement with EUTELSAT, Europe's largest satellite operator, to operate SkyDSL throughout Europe. XLINK will provide the backbone, according to Teles.

SkyDSL's arrival in France would instantly create a formidable competitor to France Telecom's high-priced ADSL offering, which so far is available in only a handful of Parisian arrondissements.

"Our advantage is that it is much cheaper and faster to set up our service. There are no big investments to make for infrastructure, because the satellite is already up there," Halfon said. "In addition, we don't have the kind of government regulation to contend with that ground, cable-based networks do."

He declined to disclose the name of the French ISP or ISPs that will market SkyDSL, or the service's price, but he did say that it would substantially undercut the rate on France Telecom's ADSL service.

Strato A.G., the Teles A.G. subsidiary managing SkyDSL access in Germany, has 50,000 customers for the service. Two monthly subscription plans exist: DM39 ($20.5) for unlimited access, including rental of the antenna and modem card, or DM29 ($15.2) after purchasing the equipment for DM299 ($156.5).

Halfon said he expected prices to be about 20 percent higher in France. By way of comparison, France Telecom is charging a monthly subscription of FF540 (U$84.4) for unlimited ADSL access, including equipment rental.

Teles plans to gradually expand throughout Europe and possibly Northern Africa, Halfon said.

"The satellite covers all those areas and there's already a lot of demand," he said. "We don't have to lay cable or anything like that. It's just a question of getting organized."

Strato sales soared by about 450 percent after launching the service in Germany, Halfon said.