Broadband access for remote areas in the UK

Broadband to rural areas
Broadband via satellite
5 July 2005

A project, co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) called Internet via Satellite for Promoting Inclusion of Rural Economies (INSPIRE) is to bring broadband service to remote locations in the UK.

Avanti Screenmedia of London, UK, have been awarded a contract to provide for the installation of a mix of satellite and wireless broadband Internet access technology in 600 small communities. The communities will be located in two regions in the UK. In the long-term, provision is being made for expansion of the project to areas outside the UK.

The scale of the INSPIRE project when compared to previous endeavours makes it stand out. Connecting 6000 users means it will be possible to verify the commercial viability of broadband access via satellite in remote areas by providing insight into issues such as flexibility of service and operational scalability.

Previous work in the development of more efficient techniques to deliver video and data via satellite and terrestrial distribution networks carried out by Avanti is serving as a basis for this project. A notable example of this is in the ESA supported Broadband Access for Rural Regeneration with DVB-RCS (BARRD) project to bring broadband to rural areas of England and Scotland.

Current forecasts are that large numbers of households in the 25 member European Union will have no access to broadband services in 2010, either at home or work; this is because of the economic and technical limitations of terrestrial broadband services. Overcoming challenges associated with the Digital Divide is high on the agenda of ESA and of EU member states.

"Avanti's success in this area will boost credibility of the provision of Internet services based on satellite and benefit the whole community of satellite interactive service providers", explains Mr Roberto Donadio, ESA Telecom Technical Officer for the INSPIRE project.

Avanti Screenmedia expects this project to open the door to a whole range of new markets. Commenting on the contract, David Williams of Avanti Screenmedia said: "This contract fits in the context of efforts currently being made to address the 'Digital Divide'. We have created a product which has the price and functionality to solve that problem."

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