Ofcom wants to make more spectrum available for satellite broadband operators so that they offer a wider range of services to homes and businesses in the UK, particularly in rural areas.
Conventional satellite-based connectivity systems have been held back by slow speeds, low capacity, and high capacity, meaning they have been useful only as a last resort.
But recent advances in the field mean the technology is seen as a viable alternative to fixed networks in parts of the country where it is impractical or not economically viable to deploy full fibre.
Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations, such as those built by OneWeb and Starlink, promise high speed, low latency broadband.
This won’t just benefit hard-to-reach parts of the UK, but also the marine and aviation industries.
Ofcom wants to support further innovation in the field by extending spectrum access under its ‘Earth Station Network’ licence to include the 14.25-14.5GHz ‘Ku’ band, meaning operators could use the full 14-14.5GHz band to support their services.
This will mean better rural broadband, but also future applications for road vehicles, trains, and drones.
The consultation on these proposals is open until August 31 2022.
Separately, the regulator has received licence applications from Starlink for six non-geostationary satellite earth stations that would connect the operator’s network to the wider internet. Ofcom said it will see whether these stations can coexist with other satellite systems in close proximity.