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Slow rural internet speeds drive journalist to satellite broadband

Journalist Martin Hesp isn’t waiting around for superfast fibre to arrive on his doorstep – so he’s stumped up the cash for satellite broadband. 

Hesp, who works from home in Exmoor, isn’t expecting to benefit from any rollout of superfast broadband from BT as part of the Connecting Devon and Somerset scheme

This project aims to provide 90 per cent of premises across the counties with superfast fibre-based broadband, with the majority of those being FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) lines by the end of 2016.  

Slow rural internet speeds drive journalist to satellite broadband

Some premises are in line to get FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) from BT which will provide speeds of up to 330Mbps and can go even faster in the future. 

Right now, BT is also trialling new technologies including FTTdp (Fibre to the Distribution Point), vectoring and G.fast.  These could increase the top speeds available on FTTC lines and make faster speeds available in more remote areas. While details of these trials continue to emerge, there’s no telling when these technolgies might hit the market. 

Connecting Devon and Somerset however isn’t due to finish until 2016 and those outside of the 90 per cent coverage mark with get a basic 2Mbps service. Hesp isn’t keen on waiting to find out which of the two services he’ll be getting. 

Writing in Western Morning News, editor-at-large Hesp tells of how he’s now enjoying a 20Mbps service from Satellite Internet. Before he struggled to get anything but the slowest of speeds, where he was situated five miles (eight kilometers) from the nearest exchange. 

While the service was expensive to set up, Hesp says that the cash was worth it: “600-quid is a lot more than getting someone like BT to come along and install broadband for nothing. If they could, that is, which in more remote parts of the countryside they cannot. However, if you were technically minded you could buy the basics and get yourself up and running for around £300.” 

Hesp’s comments echo statements from Mark Wynn, managing director of satellite ISP Avonline who said last year: “Four per cent of locations won’t be catered for in the next five years. These places will not see a demonstrable improvement in broadband availability. In context that’s around one million locations. 

“Then there’s other places that aren’t going to be upgraded for three to four years. That’s a long time to wait when you could get 20Mbps broadband with satellite.” 

Satellite broadband can deliver fast speeds at the moment but high levels of latency (typically 600 milliseconds) means that it’s not great for things like Skype and online gaming. 

With satellite broadband you generally don’t get very roomy data allowances. Hesp says that he’s paying for the 20M10 Value Plus deal from Satellite Internet, which gives you just a 10GB monthly data cap. Between 11:00pm and 7:00am you’re free to download as much as you like during an off-peak unlimited period, which means you can schedule big updates and for then, but it means you also won’t be able to stream BBC iPlayer unless you’re prepared to stay up late. 

While neither of these things seem ideal in a world where packages with unlimited downloads are ubiquitous, chances are if you can’t get anything resembling a reliable connection from your phone line, satellite broadband might be the way to go, provided you’ve got the cash. 

That said, it’s worth keeping an eye on any local projects that might be running in your area. Rural ISP Gigaclear will install gigabit fibre broadband in your area, depending on your location and if enough people in your area are keen to get it. An additional £10 million fund for rural broadband has also been earmarked by the government, so before you splash out on hundreds of pounds for a satellite connection, it might be worth waiting to see if you’ll be able to benefit from any pilot schemes. 

 

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