Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites to beam internet down to Snowdonia as part of UK Government trial
Elon Musk’s Starlink, which uses satellites to beam a broadband signal down to Earth, is to be used as part of a UK Government trial to get better internet connectivity to remote areas.
Two sites within the Snowdonia National Park have been selected for the trial along with Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire Moors National Park and Wasdale Head in the Lake District
The test sites will use equipment supplied by Starlink, a part of Mr Musk’s SpaceX firm, which uses a network of low Earth orbit satellites to provide internet signal in places where there is limited ground infrastructure, or it would be expensive and difficult to put it in place.
The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said recent tests have shown that in many locations, Starlink satellites can deliver internet speeds of up to 200 megabits per second – four times faster than the current UK average broadband speed of just over 50Mbps.
They said they were continuing to look at the capability of the system, as well as looking at other solutions and services with different suppliers.
Elon Musk has become a polarising figure in recent months following a turbulent takeover of Twitter that has divided opinion because of his push for less content moderation and allowing previously banned accounts, including former US President Donald Trump, back on the platform.
Of the satellite scheme, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “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.
“Ensuring everyone can get a quality internet connection is crucial to our levelling up plans and these trials aim to find a solution to the prohibitively high cost of rolling out cables to far-flung locations.”
In addition to the satellite trial, it was also confirmed that the value of vouchers available under Westminster’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme will be tripled next year, so eligible homes and businesses in rural areas will be able to apply for up to £4,500 to cover the costs of installing a gigabit-capable connection.
The scheme is open to homes and businesses in rural areas where existing broadband speeds are less than 100Mbps, a commercial network is unlikely to be built in the area in the near future or if there is no government-funded contract planned or in place to improve connectivity already.
Last year, a survey conducted by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes in Wales, the CLA, Farmers’ Union of Wales, NFU Cymru and Wales Young Farmers’ Club found that more than 50 % of respondents from rural areas felt that the internet they had access to was not fast and reliable, with Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire particularly poor.
66% in rural areas said that they had been impacted by poor broadband, and only 36% had superfast broadband. In comparison, 67% of respondents in urban areas had superfast broadband.
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