BT and OneWeb use LEO satellites to connect rural island

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BT and OneWeb have successfully brought high-speed, low-latency internet connectivity to Lundy Island, North Devon, marking a significant milestone in providing reliable connectivity to remote locations.

Lundy Island, situated 19 kilometres off the coast of North Devon, has long struggled with limited access to the internet. However, the recent partnership between BT and OneWeb has introduced a game-changing solution that leverages cutting-edge satellite technology to bridge the digital divide in hard-to-reach areas like Lundy.

Rosemary Ellis, Warden of Lundy Island, said:

“The connectivity provided by BT and OneWeb is already delivering fantastic benefits, speeding up frustrating jobs that used to take hours.

For example, I was able to upload an hour-long talk on our conservation success stories in just a few minutes, when it had previously failed to send multiple times. This frees me up to get out of the office to focus on surveying our wildlife, and I can much more easily engage with researchers and students.

As a resident of the island, Coastguard Rescue officer and Community First Responder, it also gives me peace of mind that if we need any mainland medical advice, we can easily video call from the village.”

The connectivity is established through the deployment of an Intellian dual parabolic terminal on the island. This outdoor satellite antenna system is connected to OneWeb’s impressive constellation of over 630 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, which orbit at just 1,200 kilometres above the Earth’s surface.

LEO satellites provide high throughput and minimal signal latency, even in the most remote locations. An indoor satellite modem on the island enables two-way data connectivity, completing the link.

The data transmission process begins at the User Terminal (UT) on Lundy, which sends data to the Satellite Network Portal (SNP) via the LEO satellites. From the SNP, the data is backhauled across OneWeb’s Wide Area Network and handed over to one of BT’s points of presence (PoP) in London. Once in the PoP, the data is either routed back into the internet or delivered into BT’s 21C core network.

Greg McCall, Chief Networks Officer at BT Group, commented:

“It’s brilliant to be bringing high-speed, low-latency connectivity to Lundy Island in partnership with OneWeb and DSIT.

The installation will not only have a transformative impact on the island and its residents but is also a significant milestone in demonstrating the value of satellite communications and the crucial role such solutions will play in enabling digital connectivity across the entirety of the UK and beyond.”

The new satellite connectivity on Lundy Island is not only benefitting its small permanent community of 28 residents but also supporting various local services and initiatives

From enabling smooth payment systems in the local tavern and shop to powering conservation efforts in the UK’s first Marine Conservation Zone designated in 2010, the impact of reliable connectivity has been transformative.

Sir John Whittingdale MP, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, said:

“This is yet another example of brilliant British ingenuity being brought to bear on our commitment to deliver a digital revolution in all parts of the country.

Our Alpha Trials programme is bringing high-speed connectivity to some of our hardest-to-reach places, from Papa Stour in the Shetland Islands to Lundy.

Working with OneWeb and BT, the island will now have access to high-speed, reliable connectivity delivered by satellite which will not only unlock new opportunities for residents but also support ongoing conservation efforts.”

Beyond Lundy, OneWeb’s LEO satellites play a pivotal role in BT’s ambitious plan to provide high-speed connectivity throughout the UK by 2028. This endeavour extends beyond supporting ultra-remote communities and includes use cases like eco-tourism, search and rescue operations, and temporary deployments such as festivals.

The two companies are also exploring ways to enhance mobile connectivity through satellite technology and recently completed a live field trial transmission of 4G data using an LEO satellite link.

Stephen Beynon, Chief Commercial Officer at OneWeb, said:

“We are excited to be working with BT and DSIT across Lundy Island, as we deliver consistent and stable connectivity to its community.

This project illustrates the importance of collaboration between OneWeb and its partners, to maximise the benefits of LEO solutions for rural and hard-to-reach areas.”

LEO satellites promise to transform connectivity in even the most remote corners of the UK and beyond. Collaborations between private companies and government bodies will help to bring positive changes to underserved communities worldwide.

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