Advanced Television

BT considers Starlink for rural deployment

January 16, 2024

By Chris Forrester

BT is looking to offer Starlink’s satellite kit as a gap-filler solution for its hard-to-reach rural customers.

Investment bank BNPP, quoting TS2 Space, says that with Starlink’s existing network of about 5,000 satellites, the Elon Musk-backed business could provide BT with the technology to enhance mobile signals and broadband access in hard-to-reach locations.

“The collaboration could see a merging of terrestrial mobile services with the space-based network, delivering robust communication solutions where traditional infrastructures fall short. This initiative may also help BT in its mission to surpass the coverage targets set by the government in the struggle to bridge the country’s digital divide,” noted BNPP.

The bank says that while there would be obvious benefits for BT’s isolated users, no agreement is yet in place and would need regulator Ofcom’s approval.

BNPP added: “From a BT point of view the offer would be of marginal importance as it would likely simply see BT act as a Starlink reseller with a thin margin. However, it would allow BT to claim that it offers a truly national service even in deeply rural areas (eg: Northern Scotland). From a revenue point of view this is a small part of the base (probably a couple % of subscribers, we’d expect) and would be of little economic importance but from a marketing and regulatory dialogue point of view it could still be helpful. Also there are often surprising gaps in broadband coverage in areas that are not deeply rural (eg: parts of Kent, near London) and for some of the these households this could be an appealing service.”

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