BDUK chief: Satellite broadband essential for rural connectivity header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The importance of satellite broadband in helping rural communities access high-speed services has been underlined by the head of Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the organisation responsible for the government's superfast broadband rollout.

Chris Townsend, BDUK's chief executive, stated during a recent interview with Cable.co.uk that he acknowledges that a mixture of technologies and service options will need to be used to reach the final five per cent of the UK population who are not set to be covered by the current superfast rollout plans.

He said any comprehensive plan for universal coverage would need to include fibre, Wi-fi and "particularly satellite in the very outer reaches of the Scottish highlands where fibre and Wi-Fi solutions can't solve the problem".

The government has set a target of bringing superfast broadband - defined as speeds of 24Mbps and above - to 90 per cent of the UK by 2016, with the programme extending coverage to 95 per cent of properties by the end of the following year.

However, these plans will exclude rural communities due to the logistical challenges of extending traditional cable-based services to remote areas. This could put many people in the countryside at risk of being left behind, at a time when internet connectivity is increasingly being regarded as a necessity of everyday life, rather than a nicety.

Satellite broadband is ideally suited to solving this problem, as it can provide speeds in excess of 20 Mbps regardless of location and requires only the installation of a small dish and modem to function, foregoing the need for any expensive infrastructural improvements.

Mr Townsend said that by making use of the full range of internet technologies available, the UK will be able to get as close as possible to 100 per cent coverage, which he said remains the ultimate ambition.

"I certainly believe there's a good chance of getting beyond 98 per cent. My personal view is how far beyond 98 per cent we can get, we're not sure yet."