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Satellite broadband company announces Wales milestone

Friday, February 5th 2016 by Ellen Branagh

A satellite company has connected more than 1,000 homes and businesses in rural Wales to superfast broadband, it has announced.

Independent satellite internet provider Europasat specialises in connecting homes and businesses that don’t have access to fibre broadband.

It has delivered satellite broadband up to 30Mbps to more than 1,000 premises all over Wales, targeting homes and businesses that are yet to, or unlikely, to get fibre broadband as part of the Superfast Cymru project.

Europasat is a partner of the recently-launched Welsh broadband subsidy scheme, which allows new customers to get their satellite broadband subsidised, providing they can double their internet speeds with the selected tariff. People with no internet connection are also eligible.

There are three different satellite tariffs, with a top download speed of 30Mbps and no installation or hardware costs. Welsh residents only have to pay the first month’s line rental up front.

Lindsay Barton, from media consultancy Golden Kite Solutions Ltd on the mid-Powys/Shropshire borders, said: "We loved the beautiful rural location of our office, but being situated over 10 miles from the BT exchange meant that we had to suffer broadband download speeds of around 300Kbps, which seriously slowed down how fast we could offer services and respond to customers.

“We thought that we would have to move, but then we discovered that we could install a satellite broadband service and get it funded by Welsh Assembly Broadband Support Scheme to boot.”

The milestone in Wales comes after a government report said its scheme to get superfast broadband to remote parts of the UK had proved that small suppliers could take on telecoms giants.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) report on the early findings from its BDUK Market Test Pilots said pilot schemes set up to look at different ways of providing superfast speeds had shown that small providers could rival companies like Openreach and Virgin Media.

'Inadequate'

But campaigners say that the report was selective in its update on progress as it did not address some of the issues posed by satellite broadband.

Graham Long, chairman of lobby group Broadband for Rural Devon & Somerset (B4RDS), told Cable.co.uk: “Readers of the BDUK report will note that the BDUK report on the six pilot projects, which include fibre, copper, wireless and satellite solutions will note that the word ‘speed’ is used 48 times in the report but the word ‘latency’ is never used once.

He said Devon and Somerset hosts one of the BDUK satellite broadband pilot schemes but said it would cost customers £70 a month for a service capped at 50GB.

“This is up to four times more expensive than a telephone line ADSL broadband service which many providers offer without a cap.

“Hardware giveaways at the beginning of an annual contract do not compensate for inadequate functionality.”

Last month, shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah branded the government’s subsidised satellite broadband scheme an “inadequate stunt”.

Ms Onwurah told MPs that just 24 people had signed up to the scheme, with just £8,000 cash allocated.

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