A joint initiative between Cyprus’ Communications Ministry and Hellas Sat, a subsidiary of Greek telco OTE, has begun a project to expand rural coverage of broadband internet services via satellite, with the villages of Odou and Kapedes connected last week by the scheme, Cyprus Mail reports. Over 150 additional communities are scheduled to be given access by the end of the year. Stelios Himonas, head of the ministry’s Department of Electronic Communications, said the government was using part of Hellas Sat’s licensing fee to pay for the project, and added that 25 communities with primary schools were first on the list for rollout, followed by the others by year-end. Himonas stated that it had so far proved commercially unviable for existing fixed broadband providers on the island to roll out rural services, but that this could perhaps change if the burden was shared. ‘There are a number of ways to do it. One suggestion was a consortium but there is nothing final,’ he said. However, the report quoted a spokesperson for incumbent PSTN operator Cyta saying that the telco is pursuing plans to expand its fixed broadband network to 95 additional rural communities by the end of this year, with a further 63 due to be covered by the end of 2010, at a total cost of around EUR12 million.