A partnership between internet service provider (ISP) Aramiska and UK wireless operator ehotspot is proving money can be made from rural and urban community broadband projects.
ehotspot is expected to provide broadband initially to 47 rural communities by the end of April, using Aramiska's satellite internet technology.
Steve Petrie, Aramiska's UK sales director, said: "ehotspot is probably our largest partner in the UK at the moment, and we will be approaching around 200-plus installations by the first quarter of this year."
ehotspot will install its fixed wireless technology to carry internet traffic the last mile, with Aramiska's satellite technology providing the backhaul service.
The offering's low start-up prices are a major attraction for users. The initial installation fee of £149, with an ongoing monthly charge of £29.99 a month per household, is similar to urban ADSL.
ehotspot acts as the ISP and offers the customer and technical support, and billing that many small communities are reluctant to take on.
The level of interest from communities means trigger levels for most of the 50 communities that have registered interest have already been met, and ehotspot plans to have at least 47 online by the first week in April.
ehotspot chief executive John Sprank told VNU News Centre this figure will rise as the ISP is receiving queries from other communities.
"We are providing a solution to the many challenges rural communities face in acquiring broadband. A number of communities have been let down by providers with promises of broadband that have not been fulfilled," he said.
Although the service is initially offered to customers living within a two- to four-kilometre radius for a 2Mbps download, 512Kbps upload service, Sprank said the range can be extended by installing repeaters.
Petrie said latency problems experienced on satellite connections were being addressed. "There are ways to overcome latency. We can offer real-time applications using acceleration software," he said.
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