Farming News - Ofcom approved Starlink broadband satellite network to focus on rural areas

Ofcom approved Starlink broadband satellite network to focus on rural areas

09 Feb 2021
Frontdesk / Finance

Light Reading,a telecoms news website has reported that Ofcom has approved Eton Musks Starlink broadband satellite network for a licence to install user terminals in the UK. 

File:Starlink Logo.svg

Starlink will focus on rural areas currently deprived of fibre broadband where more than four in 10 farmers still don’t have adequate fast and reliable broadband in order to run a modern-day farming business, according to a new NFU survey. The results highlight the ongoing division between rural and urban areas, with the potential for essential food production business growth hampered by persistent poor connectivity and mobile coverage in rural areas.

Trying to farm more efficiently by monitoring crops and livestock, taking part in virtual business meetings, online banking and remote learning as part of home-schooling, all feature in the survey as reasons why farmers have been left frustrated over the past 12 months by slow broadband speeds and lack of mobile signals, a situation exacerbated by the global pandemic.

Starlink, which consists of a Wi-Fi router and a small satellite dish, will focus on these deprived rural areas in the UK where it will compete with Government-backed satellite service OneWeb, which was rescued after filing for bankruptcy last March.

Costs will run to £439 for the equipment and £89 a month for the service, with the trial's first invitation emails going out last week.

The UK is currently the 47th place in the world for average speeds.

NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts has said: “For too long, those living and working in the countryside have been dealt a poor hand when it comes to digital connectivity; waiting for improvements which never seem to arrive. It is completely unacceptable that in this digital age we have a two-tier system of haves and have nots – particularly at a time when communication has become even more important.

“Modern farming relies on fast and reliable internet access, yet as our survey shows, more than four in 10 farmers feel they still don’t have the connectivity they need to run their businesses. This comes at a critical time for these food production businesses when much is changing.

“We have consistently highlighted poor mobile signals in rural areas, which put farmers at risk and prohibit the adoption of new technologies which have much to offer the sector and how we produce our food. The current pace of change is just too slow and, with the introduction of 5G and fibre broadband technology in cities, the gap between urban and rural areas continues to widen. As the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently highlighted, people living in rural areas “risk being left even further behind” if the government fails to raise its game on rural connectivity.