IT World Canada: Second satellite to broaden Xplornet’s coverage

Second satellite to broaden Xplornet’s coverage
By Howard Solomon

The second phase in Xplornet Communication’s plan to bring improved fixed wireless broadband coverage to rural Canada began Thursday with the launch of a satellite from French Guiana.

Xplornet owns the Canadian capacity of the U.S.-built EchoStar XVIII satellite, which is expected to start service in the fall.

The launch follows the placing of another broadband satellite in orbit in October, 2011 that covers southern Canada. EchoStar XVIII will expand the coverage area to cover most of British Columbia as well as Manitoba, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

“It’s going to dramatically increase our 4G satellite footprint to many parts of the country,” said Allison Lenehan, Xplornet’s chief marketing officer. “Combined with the other satellite launched last year we will cover upwards of 2 million rural households, who will recieve more affordable, faster broadband speeds.”

When it comes into service these customers will be offered residential and business service of up to 5 megabits per second download speed. A package of 3 Mbps will be available for $50 a month, which contrasts with the 2 Mbps for $150 or more a month customers can get now. More importantly, Lenehan said, the increased bandwidth customers will have will let them use applications like video.

Like the satellite launched last year. EchoStar XVIII has the ability to offer speeds of up to 25 Mbps, but that won’t be available initially.

EchoStar XVIII, which will operate in the Ka-band, was built for U.S. broadband provider Hughes Network Systems LLC by Space Systems/Loral to cover North America.

Hughes said in a news release that an Ariane 5 rocket safely pushed the satellite into a geosynchronous orbit just after 6 p.m. Eastern time.. Twenty minutes later signals were received that indicated all systems were okay.

The satellite still has to be put into a circular orbit about 22,300 miles above the equator. Then extensive tests will be performed to make sure the bird is ready to deliver service.

Xplornet specializes in delivering wireless broadband to underserved areas of the country.

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