UK government to run Starlink trials in Snowdonia, Lake Distict

Close up of the Starlink logo, a stylised black 'X' with the word starlink beneath on a white background, with other such logos in the background but blurry
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.


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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.

Rory Bathgate
Features and Multimedia Editor

Rory Bathgate is Features and Multimedia Editor at ITPro, overseeing all in-depth content and case studies. He can also be found co-hosting the ITPro Podcast with Jane McCallion, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest learnings with thought leaders from across the tech sector.

In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, following four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at or on LinkedIn.