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Satellite broadband services for rural regions of the UK will be launched as part of a European Union (EU) initiative.

The communications providers Solaris Mobile and Inmarsat Ventures will begin work on a new continent-wide high-speed internet satellite infrastructure designed for areas not served by existing connections.

Officials from the EU awarded the contracts to the two operators based on their proposed geographic coverage and benefits for businesses and consumers in all 27 member states.

Viviane Reding, EU telecoms commissioner, commented: "Mobile satellite services have huge potential: they can enable Europeans to access new communication services, particularly in rural and less populated regions."

Ms Reding added that a continental market for mobile satellite broadband "is now becoming a reality".

It is anticipated that the new infrastructure will be up and running within the next two years.

The European Parliament this month awarded £265 million in investment to the UK for rural broadband infrastructure and green energy developments.

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