Ofcom clears way for superfast broadband on public transport

Ofcom clears way for superfast broadband on public transport

Passengers using public transport across the UK could soon be able to access superfast broadband speeds, following a decision by the communications regulator Ofcom.

Transport operators will now be able to offer satellite-based technology to customers, potentially giving broadband speeds up to ten-times faster than what they already experience.

It means that superfast broadband will now be available on a number of services, such as trains, planes and even ferries.

The technology would work by way of an earth station, which would be installed on vehicles, allowing them to be connected to a geostationary satellite.

Ofcom has already announced that it has approved such systems, which would allow passengers to access the internet without the need to connect via a smartphone or dongle.

Data speeds on earth stations are set to be much faster than those achieved through traditional means, mainly due tot he fact that Ofcom is making a relatively large amount high-frequency spectrum available, which will provide a considerably large amount of data capacity.

Devices mounted to land-based vehicles such as trains or coaches will also be exempt from the need for a spectrum licence.

However, earth station mounted on aircraft or ships will need to be licensed by Ofcom, as these vehicles are capable of crossing into other countries’ jurisdictions.

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 that operators of trains, boats and planes will soon be able to begin the process of making these valuable services available to their passengers.”

Ofcom has confirmed that it expects applications to license ship-mounted earth stations by February 2014 and is also working with the Civil Aviation Authority to make sure the same is done for air travel.

Regulations for land-based earth stations are expected to be in force by the summer of 2014.