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Telekom Austria Introduces Broadband by Satellite

[London, ENGLAND] Telekom Austria AG announced Thursday the launch of broadband delivery via satellite, following successful trials in a number of Austrian schools.

Named SkyMultiMedia, the new service has been characterized as "ADSL from the Sky" because it provides Internet streaming at speeds similar to those achieved over fixed lines.

Rudolf Fischer, chief technical officer of Telekom Austria, said the Austrian telco had been using satellites in another context since 1976. Now, however, the need for broadband in areas not served by fixed lines has taken the telco into space for a different reason.

"We can now use satellites not only for international telephony, but also for corporate networks and broadcasting services -- they are the best technical means of transmitting and disseminating information comprehensively across countries and are therefore ideally suited for broadband data," said Fischer.

Friedrich Krajnik, head of the International Infrastructure and Satellite Communications unit at Telekom Austria, said that around 10,000 Austrian firms have offices abroad and are potential targets for the new service.

"With SkyMultiMedia all national and international locations of a company can be contacted simultaneously, or, for example, a company can offer training sessions via its own internal network. All employees of an international company can therefore be updated simultaneously," explained Krajnik.

Telekom Austria conducted a pilot project last year with the Education Highway Innovationszentrum fur Schule und Neue Technologie GmbH and ten schools around the country. It broadcast teaching videos to all the schools simultaneously from a central location, beaming the signal via satellite.

The technique, whereby data-on-demand is available for downloading almost exactly like a television signal, opens up many possibilities in education -- with virtual schools and cyber universities becoming part of the mainstream educational system.

"Distances and geographic borders will no longer play a role. Cooperation between educational institutions and the telecommunications sector will be inevitable," said Fischer.

In the commercial world, several companies have used Telekom Austria's satellite services for broadcasting or corporate networks, including the Billa Group for its in-store program "Radio Max" and AT&S for its corporate network.



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