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Digital Agenda uses satellite services to claim 100% broadband
Friday 18 October 2013 13:36:44 by Andrew Ferguson

Satellite broadband has come a long way in the last few years and it appears the European Commission has put its weight behind this as a solution, especially as they are now stating "100% basic broadband coverage achieved across Europe – EU target achieved ahead of schedule. Next stop is fast broadband for all.".

For many the EU Digital Agenda and its goals were seen as transcending the mess of our own political and commercial battles with broadband, but the reality is that things are not very different. Or to put it another way, talk is cheap and action is difficult achieve, the bubble burst for the Digital Agenda when the Connecting Europe facility saw its budget shrink from €9bn to €1bn and when countries like Poland still only have coverage of xDSL, cable, FTTP or fixed wireless to 69% of the population the UK is not likely to see too much of this money.

Adopting satellite broadband can be understood in some areas, as in theory the number of KA and KU band services give plenty of choice, but satellite services are still often the measure of last resort. UK pricing for a basic 20 Meg down/6 Meg up service is £29.99 inc VAT but this only buys you a 10GB usage allowance. Average fixed line broadband usage was 23GB per month two years ago, so an average home really needs to consider the £49.99 or £74.99 packages. We saw earlier in 2013 lots of complaints over the scale of the speed drops at peak times, and while things have improved we still see people reporting peak time speed drops well beyond what fixed line solutions offer. So while services like Skype and video streaming will work, you might find for home evening use that performance will be very variable.

As part of the EU push to show people what services are available a central clearing house for satellite broadband services across Europe has been launched, BroadbandForAll.

We guess the question now is with the 30 Mbps for everyone Digital Agenda target in 2020, all we need is for a few more satellites to be launched and the providers to boost speeds a fraction more.

It was expected that the UK Universal Service Commitment would involve some satellite services for the most remote properties, but while we still have lots of uncertainty about what the final few percent of the UK will get to improve broadband speeds there is still a small hope the UK will not follow the European wave of a hand approach. Technically there are lots of solutions available, the problem arises from how much to spend to connect the hardest to reach places and with value for money being a key factor it is very likely the best solutions may be skipped to hit shorter term goals and silence the increasing volume of cries for we want better solutions now, oh and we don't want to pay more than £20 per month.


Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
"So while services like Skype and video streaming will work, " - in my experience, Skype phone does NOT work on the Tooway system and indeed the Tooway website says as much.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Maybe the service I've seen Skype working on was not a Tooway based one. even says Skype your relatives

So where on the site does it say Skype does not work?
Posted by PhilCoates over 4 years ago
I am on Tooway XXL. It has improved in recent weeks.

I video Skype my daughter regularly with no problems at al.
Posted by fibrebunny over 4 years ago
I don't think anyone will be surprised by this. It was rather inevitable following the funding cut add to which EU targets are at best a comical farce. Maybe they'll pull a Lisbon in 2020 and have a lets talk about stuff until 2030 agenda.
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
Andrew - " even says Skype your relatives" - yes, it is called advertising, and Vaizey said 'superfast' for you and BT say 'up to 78mb'.

Begging your pardon your honour my mistake - it is on Skype's website
"Skype does not recommend the use of satellite internet links or mobile internet connections for Skype Connect due to extreme latency associated with these types of connection which can severely impact voice quality." Other VOIP systems are ok but Skype's is bandwidth hungry.

Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
The other issue is that I found the connection 'dropped' as soon as it was made and Skype were 'improving your internet connection' for eternity.

PhilCoates - "I video Skype my daughter regularly with no problems at al." - pass! Maybe it is better. The connection I used was not.
Posted by gerarda over 4 years ago
The original Digital Agenda definition of basic broadband was a fixed access only at any speed better than ISDN (128K). The state aid guidelines are 2mb with an installation cost of less than £100 and monthly rental of less than £25. On either basis they have simply moved the goal posts.

Incidentally their is an anniversary coming up marking 10 years of failure to achieve universal availability. On 12 November 2003 Stephens Timms, E Commerce Minister promised broadband for all by 2005. 5 days later BT gave the same commitment
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Key word was community...

ADSL based coverage has been pretty static since then, but expectations of speed are very different.

Only five ADSL connections even in 2005
Posted by gerarda over 4 years ago
Sorry I forgot BTs ability to flex the English language. Villages with a population of only a few hundred are obviously not communities.
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
Andrew- "and we don't want to pay more than £20 per month." - don't forget 'we' CANNOT pay more than £25 a month under the BDUK rules, and installation costs will have to tumble. How long do we think before Satellite becomes a 'legit' candidate for state aid by 'adjusting' the state aid rules? Any 'subsidy' to bring costs within state aid boundaries must be a no go.

I also reckon satellite will 'fail' the 'feels like 15mb at peak times' test.
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
@Gerarda, MikeJP
Why the references to BDUK, BT, the English language etc? This is a European Commission announcement, one of many covering each member state, and made in multiple languages, so has nothing to do with any UK projects or agencies.
Posted by gerarda over 4 years ago
because its consistent with all the nonsense that has been trotted out for the last 10 years and as another site comments "The fear is that other European states, such as the United Kingdom, might now follow Kroes lead and thus take their focus off the need to achieve a decent quality of universal broadband coverage via more capable fixed-line, mobile and or fixed wireless solutions.
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
'they are now stating "100% basic broadband coverage achieved across Europe' - why wait until 2013 to 'discover' this when "100% basic broadband coverage achieved across Europe" by satellite has been available for years? Drowning (woman) clutching at straws, perhaps?

I suppose we can take some solace in "Next stop is fast broadband for all" Whoopee!
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
Satellite = fixed wireless access with an extra terrestrial base station. Has indeed been around for years, and is now at the price point deemed "affordable".
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
'Satellite = fixed wireless access with an extra terrestrial base station.' - a challenge to upgrade to fibre, no?
Posted by gerarda over 4 years ago
Herdwick - I would be grateful if you could point me to a satellite provider that will install for £100 with a monthly rental of £25 or less. I would move to them tomorrow even with the rainfade, latency, and other problems
Posted by dafyddl over 4 years ago
Love to see satellite work in the rain we have had for the last couple of days in West Wales. Regularly lose connection on our sat TV. All these super fast broadband projects concentrate on urban areas only as they are easy to reach and thus companies like BT can claim success and gain more contracts.
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