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iPSTAR Offers Satellite Broadband Service

Eight years in the making and two years overdue, there was celebration in French Guiana, Thailand and Australia this week as Shin Satellite's iPSTAR satellite was launched from French Guiana. The launch heralds the emergence of a new era of satellite broadband across regional and remote China and India, south East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. There were some anxious moments for Arianespace and Shin Satellite officials when a "premature ground segment measurement" forced a delay in the countdown to less than 18 minutes before the end of a two-hour launch window. But the countdown was revived at 5.14 and the launch went ahead. The 6,500kg iPSTAR promises 45Gbits of throughput targeted at most of east Asia and Australia from a geostationary position. The bird isn't the first promising broadband service - Inmarsat, for example, offers a broadband service via its BGAN service to almost all of the iPSTAR service area. But iPSTAR is the first to provide connectivity at prices pitched at close to terrestrial wireless or fixed prices - less than US$50 monthly with terminals starting at $1,000 and set to come down to around $500 as volumes rise.

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