A pig farmer has set up his own satellite broadband company to service rural areas like his native Heacham in Norfolk.
Richard Dix set up Rural Broadband to service farms in remote areas that often don’t have connections at all and certainly aren’t serviced by many of the mainstream ISPs.
The company has grown rapidly as DEFRA demands that farmers now complete much of their paperwork online, with 200 customers earning Dix £500,000 in the past year.
Is satellite broadband the best rural internet choice?Dix said: “I’ve been involved in computing since the early 80s, I was one of the geeks who used to stay behind after school to use the one computer they had.
“It was difficult to get the business started, as at that time satellite technology was immature and uptake was low.”
He said the business has also grown as technologies have become more obtainable and cheaper for farmers to use. Often, farms are connected to phonelines that have to travel over a mile to reach them, meaning broadband is unlikely to be rolled out any time soon.
Dix is now looking at rolling out a 4G service connected to mainstream networks over satellite that will offer more reliability than traditional Wi-Fi and 3G services.
Although it’s more expensive than ADSL, satellite broadband can offer up to 20Mbps in both directions and users can buy guaranteed quality of service.
The company has also been responsible for implementing broadband at rural events, like Norfolk’s Sundown Festival.
Dix has experience in the IT industry. In 2000, he set up Positive Computing – a tech support company before realising the demand for reliable broadband on farms.
Last year, Northumberland Council handed out £1.3m to satellite broadband providers to reach homes and business in rural areas.