In what the UK’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport describes as “an early Christmas present”, homes and businesses in some of the most remote areas of the UK are to be offered a subsidised satellite broadband connection if they are currently unable to obtain an affordable broadband service of at least 2 Mbps.
The scheme being rolled out throughout December 2015 forms part of the Government’s commitment to make sure every home and business in the UK can access speeds of at least 2 Mbps by the end of 2015. An estimated 300,000 properties across the UK will be able to make use of the new offer.
The current rollout of superfast broadband is on track to deliver coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017 but Government was determined to help those with the slowest connections by providing an immediate boost to their available speeds ahead of any future improvements planned.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey noted that the UK’s roll-out of superfast broadband had already reached an additional 3.5 million homes and businesses who would otherwise have missed out. “We are making tremendous progress, but it’s a massive engineering project and won’t happen overnight. This scheme offers immediate assistance to those homes and businesses in the most remote areas with the slowest speeds and is all part of our transformation of the UK’s digital landscape,” he added.
Users will be responsible for paying any remaining cost of installation and commissioning (if any), choosing the features of the satellite broadband service they require, and for paying the monthly subscription for the service they selected (for a minimum period of 12 months).
The UK Government recently announced plans to introduce a Universal Service Obligation (USO) – thereby giving everyone the legal right to request a connection at a minimum speed, up to a reasonable cost threshold – by 2020. The Government’s ambition is to set this at 10Mbps. The satellite offer is separate from this longer term commitment, and will deliver an immediate and welcome boost to broadband speeds for the hardest to reach places, it suggests.
The scheme to deliver the 2 Mbps Universal Service Commitment (USC) is operated by a partnership between DCMS, local bodies, BT, a number of satellite broadband retail service providers, and a number of satellite broadband platform providers.