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Satellite broadband plans go into orbit

An Ogonnelloe-based entrepreneur has forged a new connection with a public authority in a bid to secure European Union funding to make the delivery of broadband services through satellites more affordable.

Patrick Sullivan of Slí Nua Development, an economic development company, is supporting the proposed Satellite Broadband Voucher Scheme.
Slí Nua and the Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly Mid-West Office, formerly Mid West Regional Office, are partners of an EU-cofunded Satellite Broadband for European Regions project, (SABER). This project delivered a new website, broadbandforall.eu, which allows people living anywhere in Europe to click on their own country and find information about the delivery of satellite broadband.

Mr Sullivan said businesses located in remote and rural areas of Clare, Limerick and Tipperary are disadvantaged because they are not able to access affordable broadband services; particularly at the higher broadband speeds that are necessary for them to exploit the increasing number of ICT applications and services that are now available on the market.

He said one solution to address the digital divide is the delivery of broadband services through satellites, in the same way as many people receive their television programmes. “Significant technological advancements have been made in satellite technology, which has resulted in this being a reliable medium for the delivery of broadband services. Businesses in rural and remote areas can therefore now gain access to broadband services,” he explained.

Mr Sullivan said the SABER project is developing guidance for regional policy-makers, to make them aware that satellite technology is available to deliver broadband services. The guidance, written by Slí Nua Development and Eutelsat, has been reviewed by 17 regions from across Europe.
“Through supporting the development of this guidance, the European Commission has sought to encourage regional policy-makers from across Europe to consider satellite solutions when preparing their plans to bridge the digital divide in their respective areas,” added Mr Sullivan.

Led by CSI-Piemonte in Italy, the 24-month SABER project is partially EU-funded and involves 26 partners, 21 regional authorities and ICT public and private organisations supporting regions in broadband deployment representing 13 countries.

During its lifespan, the SABER project has published important, practical information, guidelines and toolkits, some available in several languages, to help national and regional governments close the European Digital Divide by using satellite broadband technology.

The network met in Brussels earlier this week to launch a Satellite Broadband Voucher Scheme, which it believes should be implemented by the members of the EU and their regional governments to encourage awareness of satellite broadband solutions across Europe’s most rural regions.
The meeting brought together representatives from 21 European regional authorities, satellite experts and key influencers, including Eutelsat, SES Broadband Services, Airbus Defence and Space, to examine how to accelerate broadband adoption in rural areas.

Majella O’Brien, EU Projects Officer, SERA Mid West Office, said the scheme will be of assistance to communities in the Mid-West that have yet to benefit under successive national broadband schemes and are unlikely to be able to access affordable broadband services in the near future.
“Satellite broadband is a practical and viable solution today but the expense associated with setting up and subscribing to the service can be prohibitive for many. Unlike in North America and Australia, Europe has been relatively slow to drive awareness, acceptance and adoption of satellite technology,” she explains.

She continued, “Satellite broadband is a viable option for many rural communities that find themselves in a broadband black spot. The Satellite Broadband Voucher Scheme is one method of increasing its take-up and helping rural households and business to bridge the digital divide.”
For more, visit www.project-saber.eu.

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