The Hylas-1 satellite enables isolated rural communities to access the internet for the first time
The £120 million Hylas-1 satellite will act as a relay station for broadband traffic, enabling isolated individuals to connect with the world wide web for the first time.

When Hylas is on-stream, between 150,000 and 300,000 consumers at a time will be able to use it to access fast broadband. Science minister David Willetts said: "Bringing innovative ideas to life requires the right mix of specialist knowledge, public support and opportunity. Hylas is a great example of how strategic investment in space technology can yield benefits for the wider economy."

David Williams, chief executive of Avanti, said: "This is a landmark day for the many consumers and businesses across Europe who have been frustrated by lack of access to adequate broadband, it means that finally there is the opportunity to solve the digital divide. The launch of our satellite today means that access to broadband in remote areas is no longer on the distant horizon."

A second satellite, Hylas-2, to be launched in 2012, is now at an advanced stage of development. It will provide further coverage across Europe as well as a footprint in the Middle East and parts of Africa. Together, the two satellites will have a capacity of one million consumers.

No information on costs at the moment however.