AS time ran out on the government’s commitment to ensure all homes and businesses had internet connection speeds of at least 2Mbps by the end of 2015, a subsidised satellite broadband scheme is being taken up by remote rural customers.
The scheme was launched by the department for culture, media and sport.
And an online tool is available to check whether the scheme has launched in your area.
Some 300,000 rural properties, a large proportion of which are in remote rural West Sussex, are said to be eligible for the new offer – although the eventual number could be even higher.
Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey, who visited Midhurst in November to talk about the ‘digital divide’ and the government’s broadband plans, said: “Our rollout of superfast broadband has already reached an additional 3.5 million homes and businesses which would otherwise have missed out.
He added: “We are making tremendous progress, but it’s a massive engineering project and won’t happen overnight.
“This satellite scheme offers immediate assistance to those homes and businesses in the most remote areas with the slowest speeds. It is all part of our transformation of the UK’s digital landscape.”
The scheme will reduce the total cost of a satellite broadband service by about £350 – but users will still have to pay any remaining cost of installation and commissioning.
They will also have to pay for any features of the satellite broadband service they require – and a monthly subscription for the service they select for a minimum period of 12 months.
However, the government insists it remains on track to deliver superfast broadband coverage to nine per cent of the UK by 2017.
It recently announced plans to give 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 Universal Service Obligation (USO) at 10Mbps – but the 2Mbps satellite offer is separate from this longer-term commitment.
The satellite scheme is operated by a partnership between the government, local bodies, BT and satellite broadband retail service and platform providers.
The initiative is being administered by local authorities who will provide a code or a voucher to eligible homes and businesses on request.
The code can be used with a selected retailer for a subsidised satellite broadband service – which in most cases will include a free satellite dish and installation.
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