French satellite firm looks to muscle in on Britain’s broadband market

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French satellite firm looks to muscle in on Britain’s broadband market

A French satellite giant is muscling in on Britain’s broadband market by targeting half a million people in the remotest parts of the nation.

Eutelsat has launched Konnect, a satellite broadband service for homes that will not benefit from industry efforts to carpet Britain in gigabit speed connectivity.

The service was rolled-out in the UK last week ahead of expanding across Europe and parts of Africa using the same satellite infrastructure.

It also plans to increase scale by pursuing wholesale deals with Britain’s biggest telecoms companies after striking similar partnerships with Italy’s Telecom Italia and France’s Orange.

Chief executive Rodolphe Belmer said there was a pent up demand because 2pc of both the European and UK populations would be left without a robust broadband connection in ten years time.

“We see no large country in Europe where the telecoms networks can bring a universal coverage of the entire population,” he added.

“It is physically impossible. You have people living in very remote areas and small islands who will never be connected to fibre or 5G infrastructure.”

The Paris-listed telecoms company is expanding in the UK after snapping up the European arm of Bigblu Broadband for £38m in September.

Bicester-based Bigblu is the largest distributor of satellite broadband packages across Europe with 50,000 subscribers spanning 10 countries, including the UK.

Eutelsat’s services range from a basic package of 30 megabit speed for €29.99 (£27.50) per month, to 100 megabits for €69.99 per month.

The company said the 2pc it was targeting represented 500,000 homes in the UK and around 4m in Western Europe.

Mr Belmer said it made sense for telecoms firms to buy its entire capacity because it reduced the pressure to expand their networks into areas where it was too expensive.

The company’s attempts to secure a slice of the British market comes as industry and Government struggle to keep the UK’s broadband plans on track.

Boris Johnson has reneged on a series of pledges to carpet the nation in faster broadband connectivity after originally vowing to upgrade Britain to full-fibre broadband within five years.

The Prime Minister has now promised to connect 85pc to gigabit speeds by 2025, instead of the entire nation.

New Ofcom boss Melanie Dawes caused BT shares to soar earlier this month when she vowed not to cap prices on faster and more reliable fibre services until at least 2031.

But BT boss Philip Jansen has warned ministers that Britain risks “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” by failing to unleash billions of pounds of private investment in a nationwide broadband upgrade.

Mr Jansen said he needed certainty for 20 years rather than 10 to incentivise the company to build as fast as it can.

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