Sunday, 03 January 2016 20:57

Satellite broadband - a last resort?

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Satellite broadband - a last resort?

THE government is offering subsidised satellite broadband to rural customers on slow connections.

The scheme was launched during December by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

It came as time ran out on the government's commitment to ensure all home and business can access internet connection speeds of at least 2Mbps by the end of 2015.

Some 300,000 remote rural properties are said to be eligible for the new offer - although the eventual number could be even higher.

     See also: Faster broadband to become legal right

While satellite broadband may be an acceptable solution for some customers, it is usually more expensive than a comparable fixed line service.

Satellite connections can also suffer from increased latency - or lag - because of the distance to the satellite. This makes some real-time applications problematic.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said: "Our rollout of superfast broadband has already reached an additional 3.5m homes and businesses who would otherwise have missed out.

He added: "We are making tremendous progress, but it's a massive engineering project and won't happen overnight.

"This scheme offers immediate assistance to those homes and businesses in the most remote areas with the slowest speeds.

"It is all part of our transformation of the UK's digital landscape."

The scheme will reduce the total cost of a satellite broadband service by about £350 – but users will still have to pay any remaining cost of installation and commissioning.

They will also have to pay for any features of the satellite broadband service they require – and a monthly subscription for the service they select for a minimum period of 12 months.

An online tool is available to check whether the scheme has launched in your area.

However, the government insists it remains on track to deliver superfast broadband coverage to 95% of the UK by 201.

It recently announced plans to give everyone the legal right to request a connection at a minimum speed – up to a reasonable cost threshold – by 2020.

The government's ambition is to set Universal Service Obligation (USO) at 10Mbps – but the 2Mbps satellite offer is separate from this longer term commitment.

The satellite scheme is operated by a partnership between the government, local bodies, BT and a number of satellite broadband retail service and platform providers.

The initiative is being administered by local authorities who will provide a code or a voucher to eligible homes and businesses upon request.

They can use this code with a selected retailer to obtain a subsidised satellite broadband service – which in most cases will include a free satellite dish and installation.

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