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Ofcom to allow superfast broadband for travellers

Clare McDonald

Communications regulator Ofcom has given the go-ahead for vehicles such as boats, planes and trains to provide passengers with superfast broadband.

The technology will provide passengers with internet speeds up to 10 times faster than Wi-Fi and internet-connected dongles.

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The superfast broadband will be provided by "earth stations", which will be attached to moving vehicles and connect to "geostationary" satellites orbiting the earth at a speed and height that keeps them above the same point on the ground. 

The high frequency of earth stations will allow more data to be transferred, and up-to-date antennae will pinpoint the static satellites more accurately, speeding up internet access.

Although devices mounted on vehicles, such as trains do not need licensing, vehicles such as planes and ships will need a licence from Ofcom to use these devices, since they may cross into different territories, countries or jurisdictions where different laws apply.

Philip Marnick, group director of Spectrum at Ofcom, said: “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 operators of trains, boats and planes will soon be able to start making these valuable services available to their passengers.”

Superfast broadband is currently being rolled out across the UK.

Ofcom is expecting to accept applications for ship-mounted earth station licences by February of this year.


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