BT inks £1.2m Avanti deal for satellite broadband

The communications giant has signed up to use Avanti's Hylas 1 satellite for the provision of broadband services to hard-to-reach parts of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

BT has signed up to use Avanti Communications' recently-launched Hylas 1 satellite for broadband services in remote parts of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The five-year deal, which has a contract value of around £1.2m, was announced on Tuesday, days after the satellite was launched on 26 November. The agreement states that Avanti will supply satellite broadband services as part of a massive next-generation broadband deployment in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Jointly funded by the EU and BT, this scheme was announced on 30 September.

However, Avanti said in a statement, the agreement will also allow BT to provide satellite-based broadband services to other parts of the UK.

"I am delighted that Avanti will be working alongside BT to ensure all residents of Cornwall will be able to connect to high-speed broadband services," Avanti chief executive David Williams said in a statement. "We firmly believe that our complementary business models will prove to be a vitally important example to the rest of the UK and Europe of how to solve the digital divide."

BT said in a separate statement that Avanti's services would provide connectivity to "the minority of homes and businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that are unable to receive a super-fast fibre broadband service due to the challenging geography".

BT's Cornwall project falls within the context of its pledge to bring fibre connectivity to 10 million UK homes by 2012, but this wider scheme will still leave one-third of the nation without super-fast fibre access. The use of satellite broadband is one means of achieving another goal: that of rolling out broadband of at least 2Mbps to the entire UK, particularly the 'notspots' that are still stuck on dial-up speeds.