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Solving the Problem of Rural Broadband

By Edited Aug 27, 2016 0 0

Getting Broadband in the Countryside

When it comes to getting broadband in the outer rim of the UK, it is a difficult situation right now. In fact, there are around 160,000 homes in the UK that are unable to get decent ADSL broadband, mobile broadband or any other standard solution.


This article will look at why ADSL doesn't work in some rural areas, and then consider some of the solutions to the problem. We'll finish by looking at what the government is doing to remedy the situation.


Irrespective of whether you're looking to get BT broadband, Virgin broadband or any other provider, it may not be an option in rural areas.


ADSL Broadband through BT Broadband, Plusnet and Other Providers


ADSL Broadband works the same whichever provider you are with. It uses the telephone infrastructure setup for the BT landlines to carry the internet signal over distances around the UK. Essentially, the most important factor in the connectivity speed - or whether you can get a connection at all - is the distance you are from the telephone exchange. The further you are away, the lower the connection speed you are likely to get. This is because the infrastructure was always setup to carrying voice, and not data, primarily; therefore, the cables are unable to maintain the integrity of the data over long distances and, so, it slows and stops. There is simply too much resistance and interference on the cables. This is why places that are rural and remote are unable to get decent connections on their ADSL broadband.


The truth is, if you have a shaky telephone line where you are, it will probably be very, very hard or impossible to have good broadband.


Wiring in Your Home


The wiring in your home also has a similar impact on broadband. If the wiring is old and particularly poor, then it will cause a bottleneck, and also interference. Even if you're plugged into the first socket entering your home, the rest of the wire can act as an aerial for interference; additionally, the entry point to your router will cause issues as well.


Upgrading your wiring can be expensive, but may be an option if you really are struggling with your connection. But, check how far you are from the telephone exchange and whether a connection is actually available in the first place.


Fibre Optic Broadband


Of course, you may not be able to get on BE broadband because of the distance from the exchange, but you may be able to get on fibre optic broadband.


The problem is that the majority of fibre optic providers have run their cabling into urban areas and the more populated locations. It just makes commercial sense for them to do so, because that's where their customers primarily are.


Rural areas tend to be the last to get fibre optic broadband. The great thing is that fibre optic cables do not really lose speed over distance. They are purposely designed to retain the integrity of the broadband signal, and the makeup of the cables means that they can carry more pulses per second and, therefore, better bandwidth.


If there were fibre optic cables run to all rural areas around the UK, there wouldn't be a problem with broadband.


Mobile Broadband


The third generation of mobile broadband provides a decent level of connectivity, at around 1.4mbps. However, we have all experienced that phenomenon when we are out in the countryside and we just can't a signal. The problem is that the telephone masts are installed in locations that service the bulk of the population, but not always rural areas and the more remote locations.


3G connectivity goes to around 99% of the UK, and the 1% that doesn’t get mobile broadband connections tends to be the same that cannot get ADSL. There are around 160 thousand phones that are in these mobile ADSL and fibre optic broadband black spots.


Projects and Initiative


There are a number of projects and initiatives that are designed to tackle the issues of rural broadband. For instance, there was an initiative in Wales where fibre optic broadband was run to rural communities. This North Wales project has been an unequivocal success, and is running super-fast broadband to more and more communities. The great thing is that this opens up not just leisure opportunities, but also business opportunities - including the opportunity for businesses to relocate and for people to work from home and bolster internet-based cottage industries.


The government has stated that they want to get 98% of the population on connection speeds of at least 20mbps, and the rest of the country on at least 2mbps. They're pumping money in, and also partnering with different organisations, in order to make this the case.


The fourth generation of mobile broadband is arriving as we speak. Everything Everywhere already have connections rolled out to their masts and the infrastructure they have in place.


Vodafone, 3, O2 and other providers will certainly catch up soon, and have targets for 2013 to hit much of the UK. 4G connectivity is at 14.4mbps, and the infrastructure will certainly be enough to support rural communities - it's just about the installations and investment happening.


Satellite Broadband


If you can't get on BT broadband, Virgin broadband, Everything Everywhere or any of the other providers, then you may be left with only one option - Satellite Broadband.


Satellite broadband involves a dish being installed and pointed to satellites for broadband connectivity. The new satellites are able to provide speeds of about 220mbps, and you can get a decent level of service. The reality is, it's very expensive. With installation tending to be between £300 and £700 and, with the lower levels, it means you have to sort out the installation yourself. Costs per month tend to be around £25, and this is for a fairly limited amount of data.


Satellite broadband covers 100% of the UK, because there is always a satellite in the line of sight. Of course, you are at the mercy - to a certain extent - on atmospheric conditions, and there can be issues with the connection; but if this is the only option available to you and you need a broadband, then this is the way forward.


Do bear in mind that if there are initiatives to bring broadband to your area and you go and invest £700 on installing satellite broadband, you may be wasting your money. Make sure that you understand what's coming to your area before you go and shell out that kind of sum.

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