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30Mbps BDUK Satellite Broadband Pilot Begins in N.Ireland and Scotland

Tuesday, Jun 23rd, 2015 (11:10 am) - Score 2,500

The latest Broadband Delivery UK Market Testing Pilot (MTP) to go live is Avanti’s scheme, which is using their Ka-band HYLAS 1 and HYLAS 2 Satellite spacecraft to deliver broadband speeds of up to 30Mbps to potentially 13,000 premises across parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland (e.g. Antrim, Aberdeenshire, Dumfries, Galloway, The Borders).

The pilot, which is being supported by £885,640 of public funding from the Government (here), is also offering to install and connect the new service “absolutely free of charge for up to 1,000 qualifying customers” (we assume that means the first 1,000 to sign-up).

As with the other pilots it will also be focused on areas in the final 5% of the UK that have been identified as rural broadband “not spots“, where expanding the reach of traditional fixed line connectivity might otherwise be hugely expensive.

The press release states that the new top 30Mbps service, which is known as Rural Max, offers “download speeds of up to 30Mbps, with a 40GB monthly data limit. No phone line is required to receive the service. Package prices start at £24.99 per month.”

However it should be noted that the £24.99 option actually gives you downloads of 10Mbps (2Mbps upload) with a usage allowance of just 20GB and if you want the 30Mbps option (6Mbps uploads) with a 40GB allowance then that actually costs a hefty £49.99 per month. The pilot is supported by several Satellite providers, primary Avonline Broadband and Europasat.

Mark Wynn, MD of Avonline Broadband, said:

Using the Broadband Delivery UK Market Testing Pilot (MTP) funding, Dumfries & Galloway has been selected as one of only five UK counties in which to pilot this new superfast satellite broadband service, capable of delivering up to 30Mbps service to those in the final five per cent of the population unable to benefit from fixed line superfast broadband service because of their rural location.

For many homes and businesses in rural Dumfries & Galloway satellite broadband is their only realistic solution of a better broadband connection over the next few years. With only 1,000 free connections available and such a great service on offer, we believe that the scheme will be very successful so those who are interested will need to act fast.

Avonline has also announced that it is scrapping all upfront costs including installation and activation charges. The result is superfast broadband which is in line with terrestrial broadband pricing, and – importantly – available to rural households and businesses that would be otherwise excluded.”

Admittedly Satellite solutions have quite a steep hill to climb since their excellent coverage is often countered by the technology’s capacity restrictions (this can result in very slow speeds, especially at peak times), high latency and other connectivity gremlins (examples). Even BDUK recognises that reversing apathetic consumer opinion towards Satellite may be a key challenge.

But at the same time BDUK are also involved in an EU project that’s working to aggregate fixed line ADSL broadband with 4G and Satellite solutions in order to extract the best from each platform and remove the worst. This is called BATS (Broadband Access via integrated Terrestrial & Satellite systems) and progress is good, although there’s still a question mark over the cost of having both a fixed line and Satellite to deliver faster broadband.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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