Timelapse shot of telecoms masts with stars travelling behind them in the night sky

How new satellite technology could unlock broadband for remote homes

Published: 10 November 2022
Last updated: 16 March 2023

Today we’ve set our plan for how we will enable innovation and growth for new and existing users of radio spectrum. This includes a new strategy for supporting the space sector and harnessing the huge potential provided by communications services delivered via satellite.

Under this strategy, satellite operators will be allowed to access more airwaves so they can provide a wider range of broadband services.

This includes non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite systems, which enable a range of services including providing satellite broadband to homes and business properties in remote areas.

Because of their remote locations, these buildings might be unable to get their broadband services via the usual networks of cables and wires. Instead, the broadband is carried and brought to a building via satellite, in the same way as a satellite TV service.

Unlike traditional geostationary orbit (GSO) satellites, which remain fixed in one location and have been the primary way of delivering satellite communication services, thousands of NGSO satellites orbit the Earth constantly. These are tracked by satellite dishes as they move across the sky, and are being deployed by a range of companies you might have heard of, such as OneWeb and SpaceX.

What is spectrum?

You can’t see or feel radio spectrum. But any device that communicates wirelessly needs spectrum – such as televisions, car key fobs, baby monitors, wireless microphones and satellites. Mobile phones use spectrum to connect to a local mast so people can make calls and access the internet.

Why does Ofcom manage spectrum use?

Only a limited amount of spectrum is available, so it needs to be managed carefully. Certain bands of spectrum are also used for different purposes. For example, mobile companies use different parts of the spectrum to TV companies. So, it needs to be managed to prevent services interfering and causing disruption to people and businesses.

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