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Free satellite broadband and installation for hardest-to-reach customers

Wednesday, September 16th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Homes and businesses with some of the worst broadband speeds in the country will be able to get free satellite broadband kit and installation as part of a government pilot.

The scheme, expected to be launched this month in Suffolk and West Yorkshire, is aimed at people who are unable to get even the most basic of broadband speeds like 2Mbps.

It is thought that the scheme will allow eligible customers to apply for a code that will get them free satellite broadband equipment and free installation from one of four providers.

They will then need to pay the normal monthly broadband subscription themselves.

One of the options will include superfast speeds of up to 30Mbps.

If successful, the scheme will be rolled out across the country and will form part of the government’s commitment to deliver the minimum of 2Mbps to 100% of UK premises.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "Our broadband rollout is going very well.

“More than 83% of the UK can already access superfast speeds, and over the next two years we will reach 95% of the country with superfast broadband.

“As superfast rollout progresses, we promised every home would be able to access speeds of at least 2Mbps by the end of this year.

“These pilot schemes are part of our commitment to delivering this."

Modern requirements

In March, Cable.co.uk reported on the government’s planned subsidy of the cost of installing satellite broadband in the country's hardest-to-reach areas.

It came as the then Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee chairwoman had voiced the committee’s concerns that some rural areas were experiencing far lower levels of broadband coverage than the national average.

A subsidised satellite scheme has previously been welcomed by the Countryside Landowners Association (CLA).

But president Henry Robinson also said that a Universal Service Obligation (USO) – the legal entitlement to a basic service – of 2Mbps is now too slow for modern requirements.

A recent report from analysis firm Ovum has suggested that most broadband users need download speeds of at least 10Mbps to get the best customer experience.

The white paper, Unleashing the Power of Ultra Broadband, which combined a consumer survey with market data on the broadband market in 30 countries, found that consumers need at least 10Mbps to get a good quality broadband experience, with many households “well shy of this mark’’.

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