Elon Musk: Twitter owner’s Starlink satellites to provide wifi for rural areas of UK in government trial

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The trial was launched at the end of last month - and more sites could be added in the future

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites are to be used as part of a UK government trial to provide Wifi for three rural areas of the country. The satellites will be used to beam a wifi signal into the locations from space.

The sites involved in the trial are a 12th century abbey in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, a scout camping site in Snowdonia and a Lake District mountain rescue base. These and other remote premises will have equipment installed that allows them to link up to a satellite orbiting the globe and benefit from broadband up to ten times faster than is currently available to them.

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Following the trials, the government will consider the viability of using satellite technology to connect very hard to reach homes and businesses across the UK.

Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “High-speed broadband beamed to earth from space could be the answer to the connectivity issues suffered by people in premises stuck in the digital slow lane. Ensuring everyone can get a quality internet connection is crucial to our levelling up plans and these trials aim to find a solution to the prohibitively high cost of rolling out cables to far-flung locations.”

The initial wave of trial sites, announced yesterday by the UK government, includes:

  • Rievaulx Abbey, founded in 1132, in North Yorkshire Moors National Park, is one of the most complete of England’s abbey ruins. The project will improve connectivity at the site and is expected to help visitors and researchers engage with educational content relating to the ancient monument.
  • Wasdale Head in the Lake District will be connected to explore how better broadband can improve operations in communication ‘blackspot’ zones for mountain rescue team radio and global positioning services.
  • Snowdonia National Park will see two sites connected: the base of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation (Sefydliad Achub Mynydd Dyffryn Ogwen) to support their life-saving operations and Ty Cornel, an outdoor activity centre in Crafnant Valley managed by Scouts Cymru to help improve safety for wardens and the public traversing the isolated 25 acre site as well as enabling new educational resources for visiting school, university or scout groups.
Starlink satellites are in the earth’s orbitStarlink satellites are in the earth’s orbit
Starlink satellites are in the earth’s orbit | AFP via Getty Images

Other locations have been identified around the UK, and discussions for further trial sites are  ongoing, including small island locations in England, Scotland and Wales. As well as testing the technical capability of the satellites, the trial will assess what benefits faster connections will bring to these remote premises.

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