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UK gov picks mix of fibre, wireless and satellite for rural broadband trials

The government has chosen a mix of fibre, wireless and satellite ISPs to work on delivering superfast broadband to those in the five per cent. 

Eight companies will take part in a trial that will determine how the government will tackle the growing broadband divide which is threatening to leave remote communities cut off from the benefits of superfast internet access. 

The possible winners have been chosen as part of a continuing effort to bring superfast broadband to parts of the country that won’t be covered by the almost-nationwide BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) programme. 

Satellite broadband - one of the technologies being used in the government's rural superfast trial
Satellite broadband – one of the technologies being used in the government’s rural superfast trial

The eight projects will now take part in a feasibility study before deployment later this year to see how the so-called ‘final five per cent’ can get connected to superfast. 

These projects will use fixed wireless and satellite technologies as well as novel operating models and social investment financing to get internet access to these areas.

The schemes include AB Internet in Wales, which will set up a hybrid fixed line and wireless network that will deliver speeds of up to 50Mbps. 

Airwave plans to make use of TV white space to deploy four next-generation wireless systems in North Yorkshire. 

Wireless ISP Quickline is testing a range of line of sight, near line of sight and non-line of site technologies in North Lincolnshire. 

Avanti will trial a 30Mbps satellite broadband service in Northern Ireland and Scotland. In Devon and Somerset, Satellite Internet will use KA-band satellite as backhaul for local wireless networks instead of beaming directly to trialists homes. 

In Kent, MLL plans to aggregate small wireless networks while Call Flow in Hampshire test a range of hybrid engineering techniques including FTTP, (Fibre to the Premises) FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) via sub loop unbundling and wireless broadband. 

In Northumberland, Cybermoor will experiment with financing FTTP and wireless connections funding by social investment schemes. 

Rural Affairs Minister Dan Rogerson said: “Fast and reliable broadband revolutionises everything from how we work and how our children learn, to how we spend our leisure time and engage with public services.” 

“It is critical that we explore how to get superfast broadband out to these hard-to-reach areas to allow business to be more productive, innovative and competitive, which is crucial for building a stronger rural economy and fairer society.”

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