Bridging the Digital Divide in the UK
We don’t usually think about the existence of a Digital Divide in developed western countries, but it does and is evident in both the U.S. and across Europe. In this article, Jim Lunn, Technical Director, Hughes Europe looks at the role that satellite is playing in bridging the Digital Divide in the U.K.
The issue of access to high-quality broadband remains high on the national agenda. The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, for example, recently invited the views of interested parties to examine whether the UK Government’s proposed £530 million programme will be enough to meet its goal of achieving ‘the best network in Europe’.
As part of this, there is a continuing dialogue between policy makers and industry stakeholders. At a recent Westminster eForum, for example, broadband providers, industry observers and academia got together with parliamentary policy makers and government agencies to look at key issues around delivering the UK’s broadband future.
For a significant period of time satellite broadband has been able to deliver a robust competitive alternative to terrestrial and wireless communications, and recent developments in satellite technology have made significant advancements in minimising the impact of latency and mitigating any degradation of the signal through rain fade. For the vast majority of day-to-day domestic and business applications, satellite broadband surpasses user requirements and delivers increased throughput speeds.
The role of satellite
In the US, there are already more than one million high-speed satellite broadband subscribers. Building on this positive experience, the European consumer broadband market is being revolutionised by the availability of new satellite broadband services.
Following the launch of HYLAS 1, a dedicated high-throughput Ka-band satellite, affordable satellite broadband is now directly accessible to domestic users. A further series of satellite launches, planned over the next few years, will expand Ka-band services into the Middle East and Africa, providing high-performance broadcast and data communications to a wide range of markets.
In the past, satellite communication has used C-band frequencies, operating at 4 and 6 GHz, and Ku-band using frequencies generally from 11-14 GHz. The new generation of satellites however, typified by HYLAS 1, are starting to use Ka-band frequencies of around 20GHz to 30 GHz allowing for more data throughput, the use of smaller dishes, and significantly reducing the market price for these services.
These new satellite services are available from experienced and well-respected providers, with substantially lower operating costs in terms of both hardware and bandwidth utilisation. This means that users will benefit from reliable always-on satellite Internet access. Today’s best-practice solutions are also backed by high-quality service and technical support – at a price all end-users can afford.
To read more of this article from Hughes Europe, please see the upcoming issue of GMC.