The UK government launched a trial of satellite broadband across a series of remote sites using Starlink infrastructure, in an attempt to assess the service’s viability where fibre is not cost effective.
In a statement, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced the project would initially cover more than 12 sites across the country which it noted were “too difficult to upgrade via expensive physical cables in more extreme locations such as mountainous areas or small islands”.
Initial locations include a 12th century abbey, two separate areas in the mountainous area of Snowdonia, and a mountain rescue site in the North West of England.
It is hoped the satellite service will provide broadband up to ten-times faster than services currently available at the sites.
Following the trials authorities will assess the viability of using the technology to cover other areas of the country deemed hard to reach with traditional infrastructure.
“High-speed broadband beamed to earth from space could be the answer to the connectivity issues suffered by people in premises stuck in the digital slow lane,” UK Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said, adding the “trials aim to find a solution to the prohibitively high cost of rolling out cables to far-flung locations”.
Although Starlink is being used for the initial trials, the UK noted it would release “further information on additional sites, suppliers and the delivery mechanisms used to connect them in the coming months.”
The trial is the latest project to use SpaceX’s Starlink birds to connect rural areas, with various agreements in place across the world including a pact with operator T-Mobile US to assess how satellite technology can be used to eliminate dead zones on its mobile network.