London, UK, 25 March 2010: Eutelsat Communications welcomes the launch of the UK Space Agency and the Government’s recognition of the role satellite broadband could play in bridging the digital divide for UK rural areas.

Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat’s Chief Executive Officer commented on the new agency: “The UK has played a significant role in the international space industry, and we welcome this new impetus, which continues a longstanding British tradition of fostering an environment of innovation and pushing back the boundaries of technical possibilities. The UK was an early adopter of satellite-based communications and it was the British space industry that drove the construction of Europe’s first telecommunications satellites, operated by Eutelsat from the 1980s. Today, satellites have transformed the television experience and are poised to make an essential and we believe still underestimated contribution towards achieving a digitally-inclusive broadband society across the UK.”

Publishing the Government Response to the UK Space Innovation and Growth Strategy, Lord Drayson recommended developing Space-enabled services as a complementary infrastructure to fibre-optic and wireless superfast broadband. The Government has recommended funding a study, jointly resourced with industry, to set out how Space-enabled services could help deliver Next Generation Broadband to rural communities.

“Eutelsat’s satellite broadband service Tooway™ has been providing a 3.6 Mbps Internet connection to UK rural customers for almost a year and we would be delighted to share our experiences as part of the study,” said Michel de Rosen “The UK has also been integral in the development of our revolutionary broadband satellite, which will be launched in the coming months and offer up to 10 Mbps services to the UK.”

Eutelsat last week announced the successful completion of the UK-built communications module for its ground-breaking high-speed broadband communications satellite, KA-SAT. The communications module – the heart of the satellite, designed to receive and transmit broadband services to and from Internet users – has now been transferred from Astrium’s high-tech manufacturing facilities in Portsmouth to Toulouse, France, and integrated with the satellite’s service module for testing before its scheduled launch at the end of 2010. The completion of this module brings the prospect of high-speed 10Mbps broadband access one step closer for the UK’s rural communities.

Today, Tooway™ is already serving customers in more than 25 European countries including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland and Greece, with other countries across Europe rolling out over the coming months. Eutelsat is a leading European satellite operator with 26 satellites providing a footprint of more than 150 countries, and reaching 90% of the global population.