"Free" public access to internet services via satellite for rural UK

Althaff Irfan Cader Cader Mohideen*, G. Fairhurst, K. G. D. Tharangie, S. T. Nandasara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Internet Access is regarded by many as a key public service in modern societies. The UK Government is pursuing a Digital by Default agenda as part of its digital communications infrastructure strategy to make Internet connectivity available to all. While it has seen success in enabling connectivity to the majority of the population, the geographical location of the final 5% of hard-to-reach premises pose technical challenges, preventing traditional broadband services from being cost effective. In most remote and hard-to-reach areas, satellite broadband can provide connectivity, however, the present design of service offerings is unable to provide affordable or “Free” Internet service models combined with acceptable performance. One alternative is to offer lower-effort (LE) access to Internet services to provide "Free Internet". In contrast to terrestrial networks, providing LE services over a satellite network requires optimal cross-layer traffic engineering (TE) to offer acceptable performance. This paper presents an experimental service platform called Rural-PAWS (Rural- Public Access Wi-Fi Services). This was designed to support free high-speed access to government services, with basic access to traditional Internet services over satellite. The Rural-PAWS model uses a prototype multilevel service model that distinguishes Government Digital Services from LE traffic. The platform was deployed in a 12 months study over satellite across 8 pilot sites. This study sought to understand actual service requirements, user perceived performance of web access over satellite-based LE service, while investigating technical challenges to enable deeper understanding of whether it is technically viable to offer such services to hard-to-reach communities in the UK. The experimental results show that an LE service over satellite network can be provisioned, provided that (i) the web browser parameters are optimised for satellite networks and (ii) suitable application layer protocols are enabled over satellite networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal on Advances in ICT for Emerging Regions (ICTer)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • free internet
  • satellite
  • lower effort
  • diffserv
  • active queue management
  • HTTP/2.0


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