What connects rural Africa & the Lake District? A need for satellite broadband

In today’s fast paced world which relies so heavily on instantaneous communications and high-speed access to digital information, having access to a broadband internet connection is fast becoming non-optional. For individuals and businesses that for one reason or another are unable to join the much-vaunted broadband revolution, important opportunities may be missed. Fortunately, for those at risk of being forgotten in the rush toward the digital future, there is a solution, in the form of satellite broadband.

Satellite broadband proving popular with African businesses

In a developing continent such as Africa, many countries are yet to implement any large-scale broadband infrastructure, often understandably so as a great many things in life are more important than high-speed internet access. But for those who do have need for broadband access, opportunities can be limited. In fact, it is estimated that less than 15% of the continent is connected to the internet, let alone broadband.

Against this backdrop, according to the website Africanbrains.net, there is a “growing demand for satellite broadband services in Africa.” They report on a speech by Vinnay Patel of Hughes Network Systems at the SatCom Africa 2012 conference. He said that Hughes has shipped almost 80,000 Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) to the continent over the past decade, and that they are, “seeing growth in satellite broadband connectivity in a number of market enterprises looking to cloud and high-availability computing, banking and cellular backhaul.” He also added that local and national governments, “need high-bandwidth applications to deliver services.”

Satellite broadband access is a good fit for many areas of Africa, particularly those without high population densities to justify the laying of optic cable networks, because it enables high-speed internet access where it would otherwise be an impossibility.

Funding for broadband in UK rural communities expires

Back across the sea, in northern England, two rural communities which previously had broadband access are faced with losing it. In the picturesque Duddon Valley and Branthwaite, villagers have been told that their broadband access is to be withdrawn, after the government funding that made it possible expired.

The broadband provider, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, said in a letter to residents that the connection was too, “uneconomical”, and so will be withdrawn.

The problem here is that the sparse population and the difficulties with maintenance in such hilly rural areas has made it unprofitable for commercial providers of conventional broadband to offer service in the area.

While it may seem like only a small number of people will be affected, those who are will be hit hard, particularly those with businesses and websites to maintain. Children and young people will also be heavily affected by the inability to access high speed internet for educational, entertainment and social purposes.

Here too, satellite broadband can provide an ideal solution for homeowners and businesses who are feeling the loss of their broadband connection. Because it is delivered via satellites high above the atmosphere, issues of inaccessibility and population sparsity become irrelevant. For these remote areas of Cumbria, Africa and elsewhere in the world, satellite broadband could be a digital lifeline.