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Avanti Communications Group has secured funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) for a project that will look into the development of a new satellite system.

The satellite broadband services provider will be given 250,000 euros to research Hercules, which could eventually help the UK government to implement its Digital Britain plan.

If successful, the Hercules service will contribute to the provision of 2Mb broadband to the UK's 2.5 million rural homes, with some properties able to receive a 50Mb connection.

Avanti's application to ESA was supported by the Technology Strategy Board, which recently announced that it will provide £1 million worth of funding for a series of broadband development projects.

Chief Executive of Avanti David Williams was quoted by as saying: "It is clear that the demand [for high-speed broadband] now runs into millions, so more capacity will be needed if the government decides to move forward with its Digital Britain Universal Service Commitment and this Hercules contract would enable us to respond rapidly."

HYLAS, Avanti's first satellite, will also help to bring high-speed broadband to the UK's rural communities.

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