back to article Europe's broadband bird goes up tonight

The Hylas-1 telecoms satellite is fired into space tonight, with the mission to provide satellite broadband everywhere in Europe. If all goes well, broadband not-spots could be a thing of the past - for residents who can afford to pay the relatively small premium for the service. The Hylas-1 is "mated" to an Ariane 5 rocket, …


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  1. Corin

    Mobile connections?

    I'm surprised that the lottery terminals don't use GPRS / 3G. Surely they should only dust off a satellite dish when mobile fails?

    1. Mage Silver badge


      Mobile isn't reliable. It may not connect or only give dialup speeds.

      It's much worse than dialup for reliability and can easily be slower than ISDN.

      Here is why even 21Mbps Mobile is inferior to 1Mbps ADSL.

      Also mobile data is currently subsidised as much as 100:1 by voice. 3 sells Mobile data aggressively in the hope you will use their voice service. At least If I was a shareholder I'd hope that's the reason they do it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In which country ?

    The lottery terminals in the UK don't use satellite AFAIK

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The lottery terminals most definitely *do* use satellite.

      It was installed in lottery retailers premises around the same time as the 'new' lottery terminals about 2-3 years ago I think and it's been an ongoing upgrade as ISDN has lost favour. ADSL is a second choice as it's not considered reliable enough.

    2. EdWeb

      Oh yes they do....

      They certainly do. Round about 25,000 of them, with a further 2,500 on ADSL for those places that satellite isn't possible, like listed buildings etc.

      3G/GPRS turned out to be a bit too unreliable, which would have put the cost up due to extra antenna etc. Satellite worked out the cheapest and most reliable, although a little more bandwidth for the price would have been a nice thing.

      1. Charles 9

        And it's not just the UK lottery that uses it.

        As I understand it, Italian firm GTECH, which provides many lottery machines worldwide, was the first to use satellite networks for its lottery terminals. I know, for example, that Virginia's lottery went satellite when GTECH updated them to new Altura terminals about three years ago. I've also read reference to satellites being in use in other lotteries such as Idaho and California.

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

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    1. Pete 6

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.


    2. foo_bar_baz
      Thumb Up


      Where have you been lurking? Actually, don't tell me.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Get used to the term FAP. Don't get into a contract if you find out if they implement FAP. You'll regret paying a premium price for dial up speeds.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    At last an alternative to Karoo for the Hull-ites

    Well we can dream.

  6. Mage Silver badge


    Ka-Sat, not Hylas1 is the big Not-Spot Bird. Launch in Dec

    Viasat + Eutelsat Partnership. Serious resources. 80+ Ka Spots and 70Gbps traffic.

    However, Hylas1 is Avanti's 1st satellite. Up till now they have been a reseller.

    Mostly ESA funded as it's partly an experimental platform. Otherwise Avanti would still be just a reseller. Only 8 Ka-Spots of unknown capacity.

  7. Slartybardfast

    If Virgin had won

    If Virgin had won the lottery contract then they would have used the Mobitex (radio) network to connect the terminals to the host. The UK Mobitex network was at that time run by RAM Mobile Data Ltd, now run in the UK by BT.

    1. EdWeb

      I agree

      ...But unfortunately a good technology got ignored. And BT aren't promoting it enough. It's a shame when good tech is ignored!

  8. JaitcH

    Unless there are special arrangements, it keeps local censorious bastards away

    My country of residence has light touch InterNet censoring, mainly to keep rabid anti-government propaganda and Facebook, away from the population.

    My company installed HongKong satellite-based InterNet feeds to our offices which means we have no politically inspired 'service interruptions'. Hopefully the WTF band of do gooders that the UK government has appointed to keep InterNet users minds pristine and free from natural instincts can't get their hands on his service.

    How much more of the Blunkett/Blair/Brown legacy has yet to be removed?

  9. Andy Baird

    It ain't the satellite

    "Satellite broadband still suffers from a second or two of latency, long enough for the signal to get to geostationary orbit and back."

    Let's do the math. A satellite in Clarke orbit is 36,000 km up, so the ground-to-space-to-ground distance is 72,000 km. Radio waves travel 300,000 km per second. That gives a 240 millisecond delay due to transit time. Yet you're right about there being one to two seconds of latency in a satellite broadband connection. I see it in the HughesNet connection I'm using now.

    Bottom line: the problem is NOT the transmission time to and from the satellite. It's not an inevitable result of the laws of physics, as most people assume. The great majority of the delay is happening earthside, probably in the network operations center. It's an annoyance that the network operators could improve... if they cared to make the effort.

    1. Wayland Sothcott 1
      Thumb Down

      So what is the reason for the lag?

      If latency would be 250mS due to the distance and normal lag for a datacentre is 10mS then that's 260mS. Not that good but if stable then hardly a huge issue, skype will work.

      There have been many sat systems and they all have a 1000 to 2000mS latency. It simply can't be down to a poor land line to the uplink dish. It must be something fundamental with implementing a laggy IP link to satellite electronics or something.

      1. MineHandle

        I'm no expert, but...

        This 250ms is simply the travelling time. Add few ms at the satellite and the ground station. Lets say that brings it up to 500ms (I've no idea, it's just an example). Well, that's an extra 500ms just to _reach_ the internet. This is not getting you any data. It's simply 500ms from your PC to the internet. Whereas on ground based systems you are probably talking about 10-20ms. OK, that's the less than 2s but this is just for illustration...

  10. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    ADSL vs. 3G


    I have to disagree with this, other than the crippling overage charges -- it depends on the provider. Here in the US, Verizon's 3G is actually quite reliable. Speeds stay pretty stable at home. They can vary when I'm on the road, but that's compared to DSL where it's tied to my house. And, of course, for a lottery terminal, the traffic generated is not that high.

    I wonder if the lottery guys got a nice rate on the satellite, since the traffic level would be relatively low -- I'm sure the terminal probably generates <1KB when a ticket is purchased, so I'd think a satellite link (where the usage is known to be that low) could cost less than having a barely-utilized dedicated copper line running to the machine.

    "Get used to the term FAP. Don't get into a contract if you find out if they implement FAP. You'll regret paying a premium price for dial up speeds."

    FAP, for those who don't read the link, is basically a bucket throttle -- bucket fills at xKB/sec, you get your full speed until the bucket empties. Hughesnet's bucket is relatively small, 200MB, then you do get basically dialup speeds until you get some bucket filled up. I don't like the idea, but prefer it to getting unexpected overage charges like most of the wireless plans have.

    1. EdWeb


      You know what, you're right. The traffic is relatively low. I specified and designed the lottery system, and it was based on low bandwidth, low cost ideas. We wanted to be able to have burst, which we get with the Hughes system, and it works. And it keeps costs down. Several years after designing the system, I still stand by my decisions and the technology. It's sound, and so is the reliability.

      GTech have used the tech for years, and they played a part in specifying it. They know how to use it to the best advantage, and that's a very good thing. They were happy when we decided to use it, and so were the National Lottery Commission. I still think of my role there as a good one, although many would probably disagree :D

      PS. GTech were originally from Rhode Island, and were bought out. Very good tech guys, a lot of whom still work for GTech.

  11. Gary F

    How is upstream data sent?

    Do you still need a dial-up modem for upstream data? Presumably the 66cm satellite dish isn't capable of transmitting up to the satellite.

    1. EdWeb


      Nope, it's a two-way system. Generally a 90cm dish with a massive 2-way LNB. Very reiable, and very cheap to run, comparing to ADSL.

    2. Wayland Sothcott 1

      No reason why not good uplink

      It should be like WiFi, same power at all stations. The ground stations would have narrow beam dishes and the sat would have a wider beam to cover the land area. Effectively both ends get the same signal strength.

    3. Phil Endecott

      Re: How is upstream data sent?

      > Presumably the 66cm satellite dish isn't capable of transmitting

      > up to the satellite.

      Presumably the relatively low latency of a dialup connection makes it a better choice for the low-bandwidth upstream requests.

      I can imagine a system where smallish HTML pages are returned via the dialup connection too, so the browser can send out the secondary requests quickly, and only the larger secondary content (images etc) is sent via the satellite.

      But the quoted 1-2 seconds suggests that perhaps they aren't doing that.

      1. Charles 9

        That's if latency is an issue.

        But lottery systems aren't really that time-sensitive (except as drawing cutoff approaches, but that's always been "caveat emptor"). If latency isn't a big issue, then it's simpler to just use the satellite both ways. It's not exactly as if even a heavy playslip stream overloads the line (each play is a handful of bytes, plus likely encryption overhead, and each response is a small bit containing ticket number, final numbers, cost, and verification).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Well lets hope it works OK

    Eutelsat W3B launched by Ariane last month is a total loss. Wikipedia got that spot on.

    Reckon that Hylas will be undergoing testing for a while. Maybe them mobile intertubes will become available in some parts of deepest Essex where 3G fails to tread.

  13. ian 22


    So not English then?

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