SES has announced that its superfast broadband pilot in the UK is showing positive results and reports good take-up in the trial areas.
"The solution was initially installed in Luxborough – where 61.5 percent of people participating in a free one-month trial have chosen to sign up to a one-year contract. It was subsequently rolled out to Simonsbath, where free trials are ongoing, and Priddy, which is currently in the community engagement phase. Both Luxborough and Simonsbath have a population of about 100 households and are located in Exmoor National Park, Somerset, while Priddy with more than 200 homes is in the county’s Rodney Stoke Nature Reserve. "SES on initial superfast trials
The pilots are looking at two methods of deployment, a larger central dish with 5 GHz distribution to premises close enough to pick up a good 5 GHz signal and then more traditional individual dishes for those further away from the central hub. Interestingly a lot is made of the fact that the satellite service can provide an up to 25 Mbps service which is being called superfast, this is very different to the standard used on the much hated Openreach roll-out where a line only counts as superfast if it connects at 25 Mbps or faster with a good number managing to connect between 40 and 80 Mbps. We understand that the shared community system will have access to a faster satellite based connection to try and avoid the situation where one user can hog the system.
For those wanting to find out more there is a YouTube clip that goes into more detail on what the service is delivering.
The above speed test was from someone in Cornwall so we presume not on the superfast service, but shows what can be achieved, the one to two second delay at the start is down to the latency of the connection but reasonable speeds seem to be achieved once data has started flowing. Not everyone with a satellite connection gets these speeds though and one user who tested near Luxborough recorded 3.7 Mbps download and 0.1 Mbps upload, this is better than the results from an ADSL connection in the area but while the ADSL is slower the test is actually better and would support low bandwidth interactive activity better.
Satellite broadband has a part to play and the speed with which it can be deployed is very attractive, but if it is to be used for more than just a small number in the final 5% of the UK we would like there to be undertakings over a timescale for improved terrestrial services, e.g. replacing the satellite central hub with a fixed wireless system or maybe a path towards other options such as FTTH.
The pricing for the trials where satellite broadband is being deployed as a USC solution in West Yorkshire and Suffolk highlight the achilies heel of this as a solution for 100,000's of premises i.e. the price and cost of additional bandwidth where a 10GB monthly allowance is £33.33 per month and if you want a 40GB allowance the price rises to £65.65 or an eye watering £98 for a 100GB allowance. We hope that the SES system in the superfast pilots is more generous on the usage allowances, but our prediction is that while people will welcome the improvements as soon as something better arrives they will snap it up.