Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites will be used in a British government trial aimed at helping remote parts of the country get high-speed internet connections.
Three locations will be the first to install equipment that will allow them to connect to satellites and access broadband 10 times faster than before.
The technology allows broadband signals to be transmitted to Earth, in places where terrestrial infrastructure is limited and would otherwise be expensive or difficult to install.
Rievaulx Abbey in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, Wasdale Head in the Lake District and two sites in Snowdonia National Park, including an outdoor activity centre, will be involved in the trial.
Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “High-speed broadband from space to Earth could be the answer to the connectivity problems people experience in the digital slow lane.”
“These trials are aimed at finding a solution to the high cost of running cables to remote areas.”
Starlink Citing recent tests, the government said the satellites could deliver internet speeds of up to 200 megabits per second (Mbps) – four times faster than the current UK average broadband speed of just over 50Mbps.
The government will start with Starlink because of “the readiness and availability of its technology.”
But it said it was also in discussions with other providers, such as British satellite company OneWeb, about their possible involvement.
Starlink already has hundreds of thousands of Internet users in about 40 countries.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a satellite internet company that prides itself on delivering ultra-fast broadband to some of the world’s most challenging environments — from rural areas with notoriously patchy coverage, to active war zones — in the case of Ukraine.
Dr. Viktor Doychinov, a satellite communications researcher at the Bradford-Renduchintala Center for Space Artificial Intelligence, describes it most succinctly as “space broadband”.
He told Sky News: “It’s like having all the base stations that normally provide mobile phone coverage whizzing by in the air, in space, on Earth.”
Starlink, operated by Musk’s SpaceX company, is powered by thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit, while receiver equipment on the ground connects and provides internet service.
“The device is portable, you can put it in your car or truck, go anywhere and still have internet access,” said Dr. Doychinov. “It’s small, mobile, and has high data rates.”
The idea is that more satellites means lower latency service than other broadband companies that have traditionally used single satellites orbiting the Earth. However, it has sparked complaints about light pollution and excess space debris.
In the UK, the price of entry is £460 for the hardware kit and £75 for a monthly bill – a hefty premium over what you’re probably used to with providers.
After the trials, ministers will consider the feasibility of using satellite technology to connect “very hard to reach” locations.
These are the less than 1% of sites that are difficult to upgrade with expensive physical cables, such as small islands or mountains.
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Starlink is activated Ukraine After the Russian invasion in February of this year.
billionaire muskThe system provided Kiev with thousands of terminals, allowing Ukrainians to connect to the Internet in places that domestic systems cannot reach.
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Last month, the world’s richest man, who also controls Twitter and Tesla, said His SpaceX company will continue to fund its Starlink internet service In the war-torn country, it came a day after the 51-year-old tycoon said he could not finance the project.
Alongside the satellite trial, the UK government has also announced a contract worth more than £100m with Northern Ireland-based provider Fibrus to build gigabit broadband connections to up to 60,000 rural homes and businesses in Cumbria .
It is the biggest contract to date in the government’s £5bn Gigabit project, which aims to roll out faster internet to all parts of the UK.