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More signs of satellite broadband use to meet USC target
Wednesday 16 September 2015 09:44:49 by Andrew Ferguson

The 2 Mbps Universal Service Commitment deadline is getting closer every week and The Telegraph carries a few more snippets on the USC and some potentially worrying comments.

Most people had already guessed that satellite broadband would feature heavily, the ability to get connected by someone in a van turning up and fitting a dish in an hour or so and it working at almost every address in the UK are the big advantages.

Satellite broadband has been available for a good number of years, but people are often reluctant to subscribe due to the hardware and activation costs which can be £100 to £250 and the USC voucher scheme appears set to remove the hurdle of set-up costs if you buy from one of four approved suppliers. This will still leave people having to pick a package which can range from a basic £15 for 2GB of data through to £90 for a 100GB data allowance (a number of packages do have unlimited overnight usage).

Sample Satellite Broadband Speed Test

Latency is the major downside and our speed test shows the effect nicely in the dead zone on the above graph before the download traffic starts to arrive at the PC and with increasingly interactive websites that rely on small but frequent data requests some sites may behave in a less than optimal fashion.

Where we are getting a little worried is the line "Under BT and the Government’s plans, around 5pc of premises will never get a terrestrial superfast connection because they are too remote for a fibre optic upgrade to deliver a financial return", this suggests that the Government has written off the FTTH pilots from the final 5% projects or it is the original writer just trying to say that BT led fibre roll-outs are much difficult to justify in the more rural locations due to BT wanting ever larger gap-funding amounts.

If the satellite vouchers were actually simple a time delay mechanism with a guarantee that services like 4G, fixed wireless, FTTH, VDSL or would arrive in the next three years the sense of connection of last resort would not be so bad. The UK Government though is simply following the lead of the EU that declared some time ago that all Europe had access to basic broadband because of satellite broadband coverage.


Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago
'If the satellite vouchers were actually simple a time delay mechanism with a guarantee that services like 4G, fixed wireless, FTTH, VDSL or would arrive in the next three years the sense of connection of last resort would not be so bad'

Absolutely right - and precisely why I am so disenchanted with the whole project.
Posted by zhango about 1 year ago
£15/month for 2GB is expensive - I've just tethered my phone and done a speedtest which gave 3.17Mbps. That was with Tesco using O2 network and £15/month buys 3GB of 4G data and 3000 minutes so no landline needed for most people. Another £5/month buys an extra 3GB.

I appreciate that someone may live where there isn't a mobile signal but if there was then the mobile is a better deal.
Posted by SLAMDUNC about 1 year ago
That cost per month is why it's not a solution for all of USC.
Imagine typical family on edge of village, getting 1.5Mbps, using 60GB/month. Their monthly bill goes up from £10ish on fixed line to £70 on satellite, irrespective of installation costs or quality of service.
To fulfil the USC BDUK have to come up with something more than this.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
The EU declaration was itself a fudge, achieved by reducing its definition of basic broadband to 144Kbps.

No one seems to have worked out whether there is capacity to give minimum broadband speeds
of 2Mbps
Posted by kijoma about 1 year ago
You refer to 100Gb limits in the article. If you look at the providers claiming those limits you will see that this includes off peak, whihc encompasses most of this allowance. the peak time is riddled with punitive restrictions and limits. As it would for such a highly contended resource.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Satellite capacity is a fluid thing.

As fixed-line gets rolled out further, then some existing satellite users will give it up, freeing capacity. Unfortunately, plans are still only to 95% (*), and we're 2+years off that yet.

As wireless gets rolled beyond the 95%, that is more likely to catch more and more existing satellite users, freeing up more capacity again. The plans aren't due to start until later in the year, but at least they ought to deploy in parallel with BT's 95% efforts.

(*) Except CDS.
Posted by kijoma about 1 year ago
Fixed wireless is still the underclass for some inexplicable reason. Checking the TB maps reveals this as a mistake.!lat=50.9247498037345&lng=-0.8519181489349403&zoom=14&type=terrain&speed-cluster
Posted by kijoma about 1 year ago
ooh err comment line overflow , stick PO18 9JE into maps and enable speed tests :)
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
Its great how proponents of this solution have ignored that the majority or rural areas are in the west where it rains a lot. Sat. degrades A LOT when it rains a lot.
Maybe a valid solution if you live in the remote arid parts of the UK.
Posted by RuralWire about 1 year ago
Here are some interesting comments regarding the impending satellite scheme. North Yorkshire County Councillor Clare Wood "eminently sensible", Scott Walters (CEO - NYnet) "a good solution for deeply rural businesses" and Andy Lister (NYnet - Programme Director, Superfast North Yorkshire) "very good for small and medium size enterprises in rural areas". Reference - Minutes of the North Yorkshire County Council Executive meeting held on 08/09/2015. I reckon that the uptake and churn rate facts and figures for the satellite scheme will paint a radically different picture.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
it is eminently sensible for single isolated properties but not for clusters - these would be better off served by wireless
Posted by AlaricAdair about 1 year ago
A lot of this was covered in toady's INCA meeting at Bristol. The pilots are quite localised but there was mention one of the big ISPs is going to make an announcement in the next week or so along the lines of wireless/satellite for remote areas.
Posted by chrysalis about 1 year ago
look how long it took the download to ramp up, that rtt is hurting bad.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Why does satellite broadband need a pilot?

Presume more an admin exercise for how the vouchers are handled.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Kijomo
Very good results on Post Codes just get out and sell your product over the 2 -15 meg window or Openreach will have see your results in Haslemere Area go hunting.
Posted by ukwoody about 1 year ago
I'm on fixed wireless. It's not 100% but it is 1000 times better then I can get on my BT line (0.8Meg - very rural). I looked into Satellite, but living near the west coast of Wales and near the Preselli Hills means signal degradation due to weather etc is quite common according to someone about a mile away who has it and is less than enamoured. I can't see why fixed wireless isnt more popular as it has the potential to do quite well for infill areas, and is cheaper.
Posted by rorrocks about 1 year ago
As a frustrated satellite user let me tell anyone who thinks its a good solution that its already hopelessly congested and wet weather performance is a joke. The other limitation is the steady shift towards cloud-based software which does not perform well with high latency connections.
Posted by wittgenfrog about 1 year ago
I too live in West Wales. Locally Satellite offers very poor service, is cripplingly expensive, and not necessarily fast. The worst of all possible worlds, apart from OpenReach\BT!

Locally fixed wireless can be excellent, depending on provider\ISP but I (and four neighbouring homes) have no Line Of Sight to core system, so no go.
Posted by UGOTSAT about 1 year ago

Who is going to ensure the end user get the best the product and service available? The lion share of people do not have the education (They just want a working broadband solution) to know what could be available and fall into the trap of thinking because BT telephone broadband is rubbish therefore the only solution is Satellite.
“if you buy from one of four approved suppliers”
Who are the approved suppliers? Are they independent? Do they supply anything other than Satellite? Do they have the capability or ability to provide better solutions that might be within the customers grasps?
Posted by cyberdoyle about 1 year ago
Its getting harder and harder not to say 'I told you this would happen'.
As soon as BT partnered with AVANTI way back in 2010 was it? that is when you knew it was gonna happen. Openreach had no intention of ever delivering to the rural areas. They have creamed off the urban fringes except in areas who have altnets, where miraculously they start to deploy fttc.
Posted by cyberdoyle about 1 year ago
The whole digital britain project is a superfarce. and worse is to come when everyone realises 4G won't cut it. And when families need triple figure feeds and are stuck on a miserable up to infinity copper contended asymmetric connection.
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