If you’re lucky enough to be based out in the countryside, you’re sure to enjoy all the fresh air and beautiful views that the rural world brings. Unfortunately, being located so far away from the nearest town also means that you’re more likely to end up without a great broadband connection.
Standard broadband can be slow, unreliable, and practically non-existent in rural areas, something that can be a major issue for businesses. Fortunately, there are things you can do to get a better connection if your business demands it.
Why Are Connections Poor in Rural Areas?
Broadband is available anywhere you can get a phone line. However, if you want bandwidth that can reach faster speeds, then you’re going to need a more advanced network. Rolling out things like fibre in urban areas is quite easy, as companies can just dig up roads to install new cables. However, in rural areas, there are a number of problems to face, including:
- Houses are often located further apart in the countryside, so one cabinet can’t serve as many homes.
- You’re likely to situated further away from a cabinet in a rural area, which means longer cables slowing down your internet speed.
- Some properties will operate on “exchange only” lines, which means that you won’t be included in the fibre roll-out.
- Lakes, streams, hills and farmland all make it difficult for broadband providers to lay cables.
Providing the correct infrastructure for high-quality connection speeds is more expensive, which means that it’s not economically viable for broadband companies to focus on rural areas.
What Can You Do About Your Slow Connection?
The good news for people in rural areas is that the government is working on delivering faster connection speeds. The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rollout aimed to give 95% of UK premises 24Mbps connections by 2017. Now, the Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband is continuing that work by providing a legally backed minimum speed. The new USO aims to ensure that everyone can get speeds of at least 10Mb. That includes broadband connections to the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK – including the 5% that the BDUK system didn’t serve.
If you still happen to be part of the population without a strong broadband connection, here are some alternatives you can try:
- Find Out if You’re Eligible for Fibre
According to a report from 2015, 78% of UK premises had access to fibre optic broadband. Now, the government is aiming to bring that number as close to 100% as possible. Check to see whether you can access fibre in your area. You may be able to request for a broadband provider to install a fibre cable (though this can be expensive).
- Consider Going Mobile
If you’re located far away from a telephone exchange, then you might find that connecting to the internet via mobile broadband is faster than the phone line. Mobile signals can be patchy in the countryside, but it’s worth checking what’s available with your mobile provider before you give up on broadband and stick with 4G instead.
- Try Satellite Broadband
Satellite broadband is an option provided in some of the most remote locations in the UK, where fibre optic and fixed-line internet isn’t an option. Satellite connections are great because they’re available anywhere. However, you may be limited on the amount of information that you can upload and download each month, so you’ll have to pay attention to how you use the internet. Satellite also suffers from very high latency which could be a problem if your business needs to use services such as remote desktop access.
- Look at Community Broadband Projects
If you and the people living closest to your business are keen to get a better connection fast, then you can club together to share the cost. Community broadband schemes help rural areas get access to some of the fastest connections available. For instance, organisations like Gigaclear offer community connectivity schemes to around 40,000 premises across a dozen different counties in the UK.
- Get a Broadband Voucher
Companies in the West Midlands and beyond are being urged to make the most of a broadband voucher scheme launched in 2017 to help organisations across the country access better broadband.
Businesses can claim up to £2,500 each to put towards new cabling and connections in their area using the “Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.”
What to Look for in A Rural Business Broadband Provider
If you do manage to find a rural broadband provider in your area, make sure you check for the following features:
Fast internet access: Though internet service in rural areas isn’t always excellent, you can
compare your options to ensure that you’re getting the best speeds around.
Static IP: Static IPs come in handy when you want to regular access business devices
remotely. They’re also great for adding extra security to your business server.
Excellent customer support: When your connections aren’t working properly, make sure your
broadband provider can answer your questions quickly via the phone, email, or instant chat.
Service level agreements: One of the advantages of a business broadband package is that your ISP may commit to fixing problems within a specified timeframe, and could pay compensation when that target is missed.