IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

UK government to run Starlink trials in Snowdonia, Lake Distict

The government has indicated low-Earth orbit satellites could be key to expanding connectivity to UK businesses

Remote businesses and homes across the UK will be connected to satellite broadband in a new government trial intended to address unequal coverage of high-speed internet.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced plans to test the effectiveness of satellites in delivering high-speed connectivity in “a dozen” sites considered ‘very hard to reach’, the less than 1% of rural and remote sites where the cost of delivering broadband rises to untenable levels.

Starlink, the satellite broadband arm of aerospace firm SpaceX, has been chosen to support the trial given its already extensive low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation.

For the future of the trial, the government will continue to evaluate other services, and named UK-based satellite operator OneWeb as a potential partner for connectivity in more complex locations.

Test sites include Snowdonia National Park, with the base of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation (Sefydliad Achub Mynydd Dyffryn Ogwen) and the Ty Cornel outdoor activity facility run by Scouts Cymru both participating. Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire and Wasdale Head in the Lake District were also among the selected locations, while further sites are under review. 

The tests will seek to establish the effectiveness of the satellites, as well as the specific benefits of faster connections in remote areas, such as improved communications for rescue teams.

The potential of satellite broadband for rural business connectivity is great, with initial government figures demonstrating that reliable connections as high as 200 Mbits/sec can be established using the technology.

Businesses have also registered interest in satellite solutions. In its response to a consultation on improving broadband for very hard-to-reach premises, published in May, the government stated that 43% of businesses had explored satellite broadband as an alternative to fixed broadband. A further 29% had tried both satellite broadband and fixed wireless access.

“High-speed broadband beamed to earth from space could be the answer to the connectivity issues suffered by people in premises stuck in the digital slow lane,” said Michelle Donelan, secretary of state for the DCMS.

“Ensuring everyone can get a quality internet connection is crucial to our levelling up plans and these trials aim to find a solution to the prohibitively high cost of rolling out cables to far-flung locations.”

In October, the government launched a £15 million competition to encourage UK businesses seeking to enter the satellite internet market, citing the great potential for innovation and job creation within the sector.

Related Resource

Cloud, infrastructure, and management

GigaOm Radar for alternatives to Amazon S3v2.0

Purple whitepaper cover with title and circular SWOT chart on the rightFree Download

Alongside its satellite trial, the government is expanding its broadband outreach scheme Project Gigabit, and has awarded Northern Ireland-based broadband firm Fibrus a £108 million contract to improve fibre connectivity across Cumbria. Initial Fibrus connections are expected by the spring, with construction commencing immediately. 

“Using innovative methods to beam broadband to isolated areas, alongside this latest Project Gigabit deal to level up the north of England, will connect thousands more hard-to-reach premises, helping people get and stay connected,” said James Cartlidge, exchequer secretary at the Treasury.

It is hoped that investment in the region will spur opportunities for employment and apprenticeships across Cumbria, and the government is additionally seeking to award contracts in areas such as Cornwall, Norfolk, and Suffolk.

SpaceX continues to launch Starlink satellites into orbit at pace, with its constellation now containing around 3,000 of an FCC-approved total of 12,000 that could eventually provide internet access for much of the world. The firm now has approvals to provide internet to moving vehicles, and has signed both a partnership with Royal Caribbean and a deal with T-Mobile to construct a satellite-based mobile network.

Featured Resources

What 2023 will mean for the industry

What do most IT decision makers really think will be the important trends and challenges in the coming year?

Free Download

2022 Magic quadrant for Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

SIEM is evolving into a security platform with multiple features and deployment models

Free Download

IDC MarketScape: Worldwide unified endpoint management services

2022 vendor assessment

Free Download

Magic quadrant for application performance monitoring and observability

Enabling continuous updating of diverse & dynamic application environments

View Now

Recommended

“Botched government procurement” leads to £24 million Atos settlement
high-performance computing (HPC)

“Botched government procurement” leads to £24 million Atos settlement

10 Jan 2023
UK and Japan strike digital partnership to collaborate on IoT security, semiconductors
Policy & legislation

UK and Japan strike digital partnership to collaborate on IoT security, semiconductors

7 Dec 2022
DCMS to consider establishing national institution for UK semiconductor industry
Hardware

DCMS to consider establishing national institution for UK semiconductor industry

6 Dec 2022
Defra's legacy software problem 'threatens' UK gov cyber security until 2030
Business strategy

Defra's legacy software problem 'threatens' UK gov cyber security until 2030

6 Dec 2022

Most Popular

Dutch hacker steals data from virtually entire population of Austria
data breaches

Dutch hacker steals data from virtually entire population of Austria

26 Jan 2023
GTA V vulnerability exposes PC users to partial remote code execution attacks
vulnerability

GTA V vulnerability exposes PC users to partial remote code execution attacks

23 Jan 2023
European partners expect growth this year, here are three ways they will achieve it
Sponsored

European partners expect growth this year, here are three ways they will achieve it

17 Jan 2023