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Freetimers Internet's Distributed Satellite Broadband project seeks to develop secure and authenticated methods by which satellite delivered broadband access can be provided and shared amongst a number of disparate users. The goal is to reduce the cost of satellite broadband to that of ADSL for each individual user and enable people in rural areas without ADSL access to obtain a broadband internet connection, which otherwise they would not be able to afford. The technical options will be investigated, then built and tested in-house, and finally operated in 3 pilot schemes in village, industrial estate and primary school settings. The final result of the project is expected to lead to commercial launch of a system in late 2003.
The key issues of the Project are concerned with producing a 'black box' package that will potentially work interchangeably with satellite connectivity provider equipment, using a number of distribution technologies, which can be custom-implemented to suit the installation environment. Performance must be proven adequate, and costs must be low enough, to make the system commercially viable against a variety and growing number of options for potential clients to choose from. The process of the project is first to test these issues in principle, then to build and test systems in house, and finally to test them in practice. Success in the pilot trials is expected to result in a commercial launch throughout the UK shortly thereafter.
Many areas in the UK and around the world are unable to obtain a broadband internet connection because the costs for a dedicated satellite system are too high, or because an inadequate ground-based infrastucture is present. A principal benefit of the project is that such areas will be able to receive broadband without penalty compared to urban areas, leading to the sustainability and re-invigoration of rural economies.
A number of different technologies and resultant architectures are being investigated, which will produce a system which will be adaptable and potentially employ a number of different transport mediums for each installation.
The Project commences with research into potential competing systems and the planning and legal environment, and then short-lists technologies for test and eventual deployment. This first phase results in initial system designs and a Baseline Design Review (BDR). On completion of the BDR, in-house build and test of the system and prospective technologies takes place. If successful, the Project moves to its final Pilot Trials phase, with pilot programs in village, industrial estate and rural primary school environments.
The Final Review and Presentation for the Freetimers DSB project have been successfully completed at ESA's ESTEC facility in Holland on July 29, 2004.