Faster Internet for commuters on the way after Ofcom approves use of ESOMPs

UK commuters will soon enjoy faster Internet after Ofcom approved new satellite technology that allows trains, planes and boats to access broadband speeds that are 10-times faster than the present rate.

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The UK telecoms regulator has approved ‘earth stations’ that can be mounted onto moving vehicles and connect to a ‘geostationary’ satellite that lets those travelling in vehicles access the Internet.

“We want travellers to benefit from superfast broadband on the move at the kind of speeds they expect from their connection at home. Today’s decision means that operators of trains, boats and planes will soon be able to begin the process of making these valuable services available to their passengers,” said Philip Marnick, group director of spectrum at Ofcom.

The faster data speeds come from the fact that Ofcom is providing a large chunk of high-frequency spectrum and it means that a single earth station will be capable of speeds of up to 50Mbps and the speed reaching the customer would be more than 10Mbps.

Trains companies won’t need to apply for a spectrum license for the earth stations but those operating planes and ships will have to obtain one, as vessels will cross into other countries’ jurisdictions.

A consultation into Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms [ESOMPs] started in the summer and it followed a decision by the US Federal Communications Commission to allow the technology’s use on vehicles in the country.

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Ofcom will start to take applications to license ship-mounted earth stations by February and will work with the Civil Aviation Authority to allow aircraft-mounted devices in the same time frame. Regulations covering land-based stations will be in place by the summer of 2014 and it’s expected that the first commercial roll out of technology on vehicles will get under way later in the year.