A popular Cornish Astronomy Observatory can now expand its research and educational work thanks to help from Avanti Communications and its superfast satellite broadband service.
The Tolcarn Observatory, just outside St Austell, is an established centre for education, observation and research. Its mission is to make astronomy accessible to all, through links with schools and the Tolcarn Astronomy Group, as well as research looking for new exoplanets.
The future of the Observatory was under threat until the offer of support from Avanti. Centre Director Dr Grant Mackintosh had been unable to connect the facility to high speed broadband because of its remote location and was relying on a mobile data connection. “It was becoming so restrictive that I had considered relocating the whole facility to Scotland,” explained Grant, an experienced astronomer, specialising in spectroscopy, whose photographs have featured on the BBC’s ‘The Sky at Night’ and ‘Stargazing Live’.
Avanti offered to connect the Observatory to its superfast satellite broadband service and the centre’s communication problems have been solved. “I have tested the service to its limits and it is absolutely phenomenal,” said Grant. “It allows me to connect 12 independent video sources with views of space and broadcast them live, in very high quality, anywhere in the world.”
Grant can also use the superfast satellite broadband connection to remotely control the facility’s telescopes housed in two domes and in the “rolloff” roof observatory. Schools can now have access to the facility and its experts via Skype and Dr Grant can now easily share data from his research work searching for Exoplanets with colleagues in North America.
“Just two weeks after my initial conversation with Avanti, their professional install team was here and had the satellite system up and running in no time. I have heard people complain about the latency on satellite broadband systems but I tested it by sending live images of the moon to a colleague in the US and as I annotated the image on screen, he could see my notes pretty much immediately – it was outstanding.”
Andy Williams, ERDF Cornwall Superfast Satellites Project Coordinator for Avanti Communications, based at Goonhilly, said: “When we heard that the great work of the Tolcarn Observatory was being hindered by a lack of superfast broadband we immediately realised that our service was the perfect solution. It’s great to see our space-based service helping out fellow stargazers but the Avanti satellite solution is also ideal for any Cornish rural business which cannot currently get a fast connection.”
Avanti superfast broadband from less than £1 per day
Avanti Communications is a UK based satellite operator setting a new standard in satellite communications with a fleet of satellites that covers the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Under a scheme funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Avanti provides subsidised superfast connectivity to rural businesses across Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.
The scheme helps eligible rural businesses without access to superfast broadband, get a connection of up to 40Mbps download, the fastest satellite broadband speeds available in Europe.
The aim of the project is to support the growth of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by increasing competitiveness and productivity, as well as promoting the use of online and digital marketing tools.
The scheme targets areas where there is no broadband connectivity or, where broadband access has speeds lower than 2Mbps. The project has funding to provide high speed broadband connectivity of up to 40Mbps to up to 1,000 businesses across the region. Avanti is running the project from its satellite operations base at the world famous Goonhilly site on the Cornwall Lizard peninsula.
The funding for the project includes free kit and subsidised installation, as well as the monthly tariffs offered on a subsidised rate. All packages offer the same speeds with the variance on price reflecting the data allowance per month; data packages start at 25GB and go up to 150GB for larger users.
The installation is carried out by a Certified Service Provider, and includes the installation of a satellite dish (installed on the outside of the premises), and a modem (installed inside the premises). Once this is installed, PCs, Wi-Fi routers and other equipment can be connected and businesses can benefit from significantly increased broadband speeds.