More of the UK’s homes and businesses are expected to gain access to a better broadband connection following announcements made by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).
Firstly, the DCMS has confirmed that is has begun a trial utilising Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to provide broadband at sites in several locations, including: Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire Moor National Park; Wasdale Head in the Lake District; and Snowdonia National Park. According to the body, the trial – which is being supported by equipment supplied by Starlink – will seek to determine the extent to which satellites can be used to deliver high speed connections to more than a dozen ‘very hard to reach’ locations, namely the less than 1% of sites in the UK which are reportedly too difficult to upgrade via physical cables. Following the trials, the government has said it will consider the viability of using satellite technology to connect very hard to reach homes and businesses across the country.
In separate but related news, the DCMS has also announced the awarding of a contract valued at GBP108 million (USD130 million) to Belfast-based Fibrus, noting this was ‘the biggest contract yet under the government’s Project Gigabit programme’. As per the deal, Fibrus will bring gigabit connectivity to around 60,000 premises in the county of Cumbria.
Finally, rounding out a raft of announcements related to fixed broadband, the DCMS has also confirmed it is triple the value of vouchers available under its ‘Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme’ (‘GBVS’). From early 2023, eligible homes and businesses will be able to apply for up to GBP4,500 to cover the costs of a gigabit-capable connection, up from GBP1,500 for homes and GBP3,500 for businesses previously. According to the government department, the uplift in the voucher value will ‘enable broadband providers to reach further into rural areas where the build costs are higher’.