Homes and businesses in some of the most remote areas of the UK are to be offered a subsidised satellite broadband connection if they are currently unable to obtain an affordable broadband service of at least 2 Mbps.
The scheme being rolled out throughout December 2015 forms part of the Government’s commitment to make sure every home and business in the UK can access speeds of at least 2 Mbps by the end of 2015. An estimated 300,000 properties across the UK will be able to make use of the new offer.
The current rollout of superfast broadband is on track to deliver coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017 but Government was determined to help those with the slowest connections by providing an immediate boost to their available speeds ahead of any future improvements planned.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said:
Our rollout of superfast broadband has already reached an additional 3.5 million homes and businesses who would otherwise have missed out. We are making tremendous progress, but it’s a massive engineering project and won’t happen overnight. This scheme offers immediate assistance to those homes and businesses in the most remote areas with the slowest speeds and is all part of our transformation of the UK’s digital landscape.
Users will be responsible for paying any remaining cost of installation and commissioning (if any), choosing the features of the satellite broadband service they require, and for paying the monthly subscription for the service they selected (for a minimum period of 12 months).
An online tool is now available to check whether the scheme has launched in your area.
The Government recently announced plans to introduce a Universal Service Obligation (USO) – thereby giving everyone the legal right to request a connection at a minimum speed, up to a reasonable cost threshold – by 2020. The Government’s ambition is to set this at 10Mbps. The satellite offer is separate from this longer term commitment, and will deliver an immediate and welcome boost to broadband speeds for the hardest to reach places.
The scheme to deliver the 2 Mbps Universal Service Commitment (USC) is operated by a partnership between DCMS, local bodies, BT, a number of satellite broadband retail service providers, and a number of satellite broadband platform providers.
The initiative will be administered by local authorities who will provide a code to eligible homes and businesses upon request. They can use the code with one of a selected number of retail service providers to obtain a subsidised satellite broadband service, including a free satellite dish and installation in most cases.
The code does not have a specific fixed value, but when used to obtain a satellite broadband service from one of the selected retail service providers, the use of the code will reduce the total cost (i.e. installation and commissioning costs plus 12 monthly subscriptions) by around £350.