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Giant leap is needed for broadband in the West as speeds are quicker on the moon

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 29, 2014

By Philippa Jenkins

  • Giant leap is needed for broadband in the West as speeds are quicker on the moon

  • Sam Holliday, the development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Gloucestershire and the West of England, says it's ridiculous you can get better broadband speeds on the Moon

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Businesses in the West are facing slower broadband speeds than the Moon, new data has revealed.

It is now possible to get broadband speeds of just under 20mbps on the Moon, according to technology website Wired.

Staggeringly that far outstrips the speeds available to users in rural Somerset, that in some areas only reach 10.1mbps.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Nasa have been breaking records with its new broadband transmissions speeds on Earth's satellite to the moon.

A download speed of 19.44mbps has been achieved through a laser-powered communication uplink through RF signals, along with an upload speed of 622mbps that is 4,800 times faster than the previous record.

The transmissions now make it possible to receive large amounts of data and stream video and audio on the Moon.

As a result it is potentially possible to sit on the Moon and watch YouTube.

However with the Moon being 284,633km away from Earth, the connection is dependent on its rotation around our planet – laser telescopes beam the data through columns of air which experience bending effects from the atmosphere.

Mark Stevens of MIT Lincoln Laboratory said: "Communicating at high data rates from Earth to the Moon with laser beams is challenging because of the 400,000-kilometre distance spreading out the light beam.

"It's doubly difficult going through the atmosphere, because turbulence can bend light-causing rapid fading or dropouts of the signal at the receiver."

But back in the South West despite government funding being pumped into improving rural internet speeds with more then 140 fibre broadband cabinets being installed across Somerset and Devon many business are still struggling.

Sam Holliday, the development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Gloucestershire and the West of England, thinks the data proves how much more needs to be done to help business in the area.

He said: "The issue of providing rural broadband to small businesses is one of the biggest challenges we face in the South West.

"For our local small businesses to succeed in today's market they need fast, reliable and consistent coverage.

"But we are continuously being told that it is not an easy thing to obtain.

"To hear that you can probably get better coverage on the Moon should come as a shock but I expect to a lot of people it won't.

"I just hope that this kind of faster wi-fi can be adapted for us because otherwise businesses in the West can never be on a level playing field."

Laurent Boon is the BT programme manager for Connecting Devon and Somerset, the programme which is using government funds to roll out faster broadband across the two counties.

He said although the programme is going well more businesses need to get involved if the push is to really develop momentum.

He said: "Superfast broadband is already providing a major boost for the local economy and the benefits will grow as more businesses and households take advantage of the major opportunities offered by this high-speed technology."

Mr Boon added: "The take-up of fibre broadband in Devon and Somerset is encouraging so far, but it is important that many more businesses and households join the superfast broadband revolution."

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  • siarad2  |  May 29 2014, 3:37PM

    We're supposed to have competition but it seems BT is doing the majority of work, that BT which for years & years was prevented from providing anything other than voice phone lines. This so the 'competition' could supply video services & broadband & out of the profits build fast competitive fibre optic networks, which profits seemingly they pocketed instead. Had the competition been properly regulated or BT not been so shackled we could all be enjoying high speed BB. . Further we're the only EU country which charges a property tax on every lit fibre which can be up to £3,000 per kilometre making small communities uneconomical, removal of which or charging per customer, the Tories reneged on once in power.

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