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Japan successfully launches high-speed Internet satellite

TOKYO (AFP) — Japan successfully launched Saturday an experimental satellite aimed at providing high-speed Internet access across Asia, even when terrestrial infrastructure goes down, the space agency said.

The domestically developed H-2A rocket carrying the Kizuna satellite was launched at 17:55 pm (0855 GMT) with no glitches from the Space Centre on Tanegashima island off the southern tip of Kyushu Island, southern Japan.

The communications satellite, expected to be in use for five years, separated from the rocket approximately 35 minutes after the launch, said an official of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during a live broadcast.

The 342 million dollar-Kizuna will allow super-high speed data communications of up to 1.2 Gbps, which would make it the fastest in the world, the agency said.

That rate would translate to 150 times that of the average high-speed ADSL connection rate of 8 Mbps, or 12 times the speed of a fibre-optic communication delivery to a person's premises (FTTP).

The "Kizuna," which also means "bond" in Japanese, is expected to begin transmitting and receiving data with terrestrial infrastructures in July after completing preparations and confirming the satellite's safety.

Japan is looking to use the satellite to allow communication when a ground-based network is severed by a disaster in any Asian country, in which case it would be used to transmit data to crisis management offices.

The agency is hoping it can also be used as an educational or medical tool to reach people in remote or mountainous areas.

"The Internet is now an integral part of our lives; but its infrastructure levels vary. Urban areas ... have a better environment, whereas some mountainous regions and remote islands are not well-equipped," JAXA said on its website.--read more

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