Rural UK Broadband: Tackling Slow Internet Speeds

November 3rd, 2022
Rural UK Broadband: Tackling Slow Internet Speeds

Internet connectivity is one of the most important tools that rural areas of the UK need to connect with the outside world. It allows people to do a various things, including accessing education and healthcare services, sending and receiving emails, watching TV and streaming movies online, and also playing games online. However, broadband in rural areas can be slower because there are fewer people living there who can afford it, which is why it’s very important for governments to invest in improving broadband infrastructure in these areas. By building new networks that bring high-speed internet to more people, they can help bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas. There are also other reasons why broadband in rural areas may be slower than in urban areas. For example, rural areas often have fewer fibre optic cables connecting them to the wider world, so when there are problems with the network it can be harder for people to get online. This means that they are less likely to know about the issues and report them to the broadband service provider. Another problem is that existing infrastructure may not be suitable for high-speed internet connections, so service providers have to spend time and money upgrading it before they can start offering faster speeds. This can lead to delays in rolling out services for businesses and residents alike.

What is broadband in a nutshell for the UK consumers?

Broadband is a telecommunications service offering high-speed internet access. Broadband service is available to most households in urban areas and can be delivered via cable, fibre or satellite. Broadband services are often referred to as ‘high speed’ or ‘broadband’ because they provide download speeds of at least 10 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 1 Mbps. Mainly, there are two types of broadband: fixed and mobile. Fixed broadband connection is the type that comes directly into your home via an ethernet cable from your router. Mobile broadband connection is the type you can take with you when you travel. It can be delivered via a mobile phone network (3G/4G and 5G (where available)) or via satellite. Fixed and mobile connection both offer download speeds of up to 100Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20 Mbps. You can also choose best option between several different packages which vary in price depending on how much bandwidth you need and where you live.

These packages include:

  • Basic package: 10Mbps download speed and 1Mbps upload speed
  • Standard package: 30Mbps download speed and 5Mbps upload speed
  • Premium package: >70Mbps download speed and 10Mbps upload speed
  • Ultimate package: >120Mbps download speed and 20Mbps upload speed The higher the package, the more expensive it will be, but for most people it will provide enough

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Types of broadband available in rural locations

1 – Fibre broadband

Fibre broadband is a type of high-speed internet access that uses fibre optic cables to transmit data at very high speeds. It’s also known as “fibre” or “FTTP” connectivity and is the most advanced form of broadband. Fibre broadband offers significantly faster broadband speeds than traditional standard or cable internet and it’s also much more reliable. Many fibre providers offer packages with unlimited usage, but be aware that not all plans include unlimited calls and texts. In order to receive fibre connection to your desired location, your provider needs to install a fibre-optic cable connection from a street cabinet. Once the cable from street cabinet has been installed, you’ll need to connect it to your modem, which plugs into a wall outlet. If you’re on a shared connection (for example, if you live in an apartment building), then you’ll need to get a new modem for each person in your building. Fibre broadband is often used by business owners and home office workers who need faster services for things like online webinars and video conferencing. There are two main types of fibre: active and passive. Active fibre requires a small box plugged into your phone or router that sends data back along the optic cable to the modem. Passive fibre does not require any active boxes and simply uses existing wiring. More than 1.5 million UK households are still not able to access superfast internet speeds and over 43,000 UK business premises still don’t have a decent fixed line broadband service or an option to switch to a fibre broadband service. Virgin media is one of the main UK fibre broadband provider of digital cable television and high-speed Internet to over 55% of the UK homes or around 19.5 million UK customers. Businesses may require a new installation from main telephone exchange to have a dedicated fibre connection for a superfast broadband.

2 – ADSL broadband (sometime known as standard broadband)

ADSL broadband is the most common type of broadband in rural areas, but it can often be slow due to the lack of fibre optic cable. ADSL uses copper wires to send data and is not as fast as fibre broadband, which uses laser or other types of light transmissions. Always speak to your internet service provider about ways you can speed up your connection. There are a few reasons for this – distance from the exchange, terrain and obstacles in the network (such as trees). Some solutions that have been found to improve standard broadband speeds include installing an amplifier and using a wireless router. There are several ways to improve ADSL broadband speeds by installing new lines, upgrading equipment or using virtual line extension (VLE). You can always ask your service provider to upgrade you to faster services from standard broadband when required.

3 – Cable broadband

Cable broadband is the fastest growing type of broadband internet access in the UK. It’s delivered by a cable, or fibre-optic cable, to your home. Unlike fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), it does not rely solely on fibre-optic connections for transmission. Instead, it uses a mix of fibre and copper technology that allows for faster download speeds and better reliability than FTTH. In general, cable broadband is more expensive than fixed DSL and fixed wireless (aka mobile broadband). It also requires a physical connection to the internet service provider’s network, which can be difficult to install in some areas. However, it has the advantage of being available virtually anywhere in the country with an existing coaxial cable network coverage. Cable services are typically offered as part of a triple play bundle including TV and phone service with low monthly costs that can reach into the thousands of dollars per month. Cable providers often have significantly lower pricing tiers for customers who only want internet service.

4 – Mobile broadband

Mobile broadband is a type of broadband internet service that allows you to connect your computer or phone to the internet using a mobile phone signal or a mobile network. It’s a great way to stay connected on the go! Mobile broadband has become increasingly popular because it’s easy, cheap and convenient. You can use it while you’re out and about, in places like parks, cafes and other public spaces. You don’t need a permanent Wi-Fi connection—just a wireless data plan with enough data to keep you connected. Mobile broadband is also useful if you don’t have access to Wi-Fi at home or work, if you’re travelling in an area without coverage or if you want to save money by avoiding expensive data plans. Mobile broadband is not the same as mobile phone services such as voice minutes and texts but it works on same mobile network.

5 – Satellite broadband

Satellite broadband is a broadband service that uses satellite transmission to provide high-speed connections to homes and businesses. The connectivity is delivered via several satellites in orbit, ideally positioned to provide coverage across the whole of the UK. By using multiple satellites, the signal is able to be distributed more evenly across the country, ensuring that everyone can receive a consistent internet signal no matter where they are located. The technology has been used for years by organizations that require a large amount of web traffic but don’t have access to traditional landline cables. But recently it has also started to offered by many ISPs as an alternative to traditional ADSL broadband services. The main benefit of satellite broadband is its ability to provide much faster speeds than DSL or cable broadband services, with coverage spread out over large swathes of land so that even rural areas can achieve reliable connectivity. It also allows users to connect from remote locations such as boats and cars, making it ideal for people who travel a lot for work or pleasure.

6 – Wireless Broadband

Wireless broadband is internet access provided over the air (radio waves). It is ‘wireless’ because it does not rely on a physical connection to the internet. This means it does not use cables, wires or masts. Instead, it uses radio waves to connect devices such as laptops, phones and tablets to the internet. These are also known as ‘Wi-Fi’ connections. By definition, wireless broadband means that you don’t need a wired connection to get online – you just need an internet connection and a device with a wireless chip (like your laptop or smartphone). Wireless broadband can be delivered via satellite dishes, mobile phone networks, Wi-Fi networks and fibre optic cables. There are two kinds of wireless broadband: fixed wireless and mobile wireless. Fixed wireless broadband uses satellite dishes to deliver internet access over long distances. You can often get fixed wireless broadband in rural areas where there are no cables or masts nearby. Mobile wireless broadband works by sending signals between towers or masts on the ground and your device. There are fewer towers available for mobile broadband than for fixed wireless broadband, so you will usually be limited to the areas with good coverage in your area. However, you can often get mobile wireless broadband in more urban areas where there are nearby masts.

7 – Fixed line broadband 

Fixed line broadband (also known as copper, copper wire or copper cable) refers to broadband internet access that is connected via a traditional telephone line. This type of internet connection is commonly used by businesses and homes in order to provide reliable high speed internet access for internet users. Fixed line broadband can be delivered via fibre optic cables, ordinary phone lines or a combination of both. There are two types of fixed line broadband connections: ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) and VDSL (Very High Frequency Digital Subscriber Line). ADSL allows high speeds up to 24 Mbps whereas VDSL offers download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. Fixed line broadband uses a single connection like a telephone line, and the speed of the connection depends on the distance between the user and the nearest transmitter. This means that fixed line broadband speeds can vary depending on your location. At home, you’ll get the best possible performance, but if you’re on mobile (cell) data, you may experience slower speeds or even no service at all.

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Why is Broadband Slow in Rural Areas of the UK?

Virtually every household has access to the internet. However, those living in rural areas often experience slower speeds and lower upload rates than their city-dwelling counterparts. Below, we’ll be exploring why that is and what can be done about it. In this digital age, internet is almost as essential as having running water. Without fast and reliable broadband, people cannot complete everyday tasks such as applying for jobs online, watching their favourite shows on streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, or keeping up with friends via social media accounts. Furthermore, many public services are now accessible online from the comfort of your own home rather than having to drive out to a local office to submit documents or log an appointment with a social worker or school administrator.

1 – Reasons for Slow Internet in Rural Areas

As we’ve seen, there are numerous reasons why rural areas in the UK have slower internet connections than cities. Here’s a brief summary of the issues that could be impacting your connection speed. – Low Investment in Rural Areas: Cities have higher economic activity and therefore attract more investment from telecom providers. The economy in rural areas is not as strong and as a result, telecom providers have little incentive to invest in building infrastructure in these regions. This leads to slower and more expensive internet for rural customers. – Higher Volume of Data in Cities: Cities attract a higher volume of data usage due to increased population density. This can create congestion in networks, slowing down connections for everyone. – Under-Provisioning in Rural Areas: Telecom providers are notorious for over-provisioning in city areas as a result of high demand. In rural areas, however, they often under-provision which leads to slower internet speeds.

2 -The Issue of Congestion

The issue of congestion occurs when there is too much data being sent and received by too many different users within a certain area. This results in the network being overloaded, causing slow internet speeds. In cities, the high volume of people using networks can lead to this congestion. This is one of the reasons why cities have slower speeds than rural areas since there are more people using the same networks.

3 – Limited Availability of Bands from broadband providers

In the UK, frequencies are divided into different ‘bands’. The amount of data that each band can transfer is different. The band that is used to transmit data within rural areas is the 800MHz band. In cities, however, the 2600MHz band is used instead. Both bands work at a certain speed. The 800MHz band works at a speed of 40Gbps. The 2600MHz, on the other hand, works at a speed of 100Gbps.

4 – Low Number of Potential Partners to Expand Infrastructure for rural internet

In order for internet providers to build infrastructure in rural areas, they need to find partners who own the rights to the land that the infrastructure is being built on. In cities, there are a higher number of potential partners than there are in rural areas. This makes it harder for rural ISPs to find partners in order to expand their infrastructure and result in slower internet.

5 – Infrastructure Is Old and Faulty

The majority of the infrastructure used to provide broadband in the UK was built in the 1990s. As technology advances, this means that it is becoming slower and less efficient. It is estimated that more than 40% of the utility networks in rural areas are 30 years or older. This leads to faulty connections, slower internet, and potential damage to other equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Rural Broadband?

Broadband refers to the type of internet you can access at home. A broadband connection is the internet service that brings the World Wide Web into your home via a service provider. Broadband can be wired or wireless, and there are two main types: DSL and fibre. DSL is a type of internet connection that uses existing copper phone wires to transmit digital data. Fibre broadband uses fibre-optic cables to transmit data at much higher speeds than DSL. Rural areas are generally defined as those outside of major cities, where there are fewer people living, and where travel distances are often greater. This means there is less demand for internet service providers to build infrastructure to support these areas. So, in these areas, broadband is likely to be via DSL, which means slower speeds and a greater likelihood of experiencing slowdowns when lots of people are online at the same time.

Why is Rural Broadband Important?

A strong internet connection is essential for any business, even those based in the countryside. Several studies have shown that residents in rural areas are more likely to start businesses if they have access to internet services, and with a higher level of digital skills than those in urban areas. Businesses in rural areas with improved internet access have a better chance to grow, which means more jobs in rural areas and higher household income. There are also a number of factors that make internet access more important in rural areas: – Rural residents are more likely to be older and to have health issues. These people often rely on online services to help them with tasks, such as managing their health and finances. – Rural residents are more likely to live alone and have fewer people to rely on for help and support. They often use online services to reach out to friends and family who live far away. – Rural residents are more likely to be socially isolated. They can use online services to connect with friends and neighbours, as well as with people from different parts of the world. – Rural residents are more likely to work from home and to have a small business, such as an online store. They depend on the internet to reach their customers and suppliers. – Rural residents are more likely to care for children and dependents at home. They can use online services to stay in touch with teachers and health professionals who live far away.

What are the Challenges to Providing Rural Broadband?

The challenges for providing rural broadband start with the fact that fewer people are living in the countryside, meaning there is less demand for internet service providers to build infrastructure to support them. Additionally, it can be hard to reach remote areas with fibre optic cables. The cables need to be laid underground, often along paths that are not accessible by machinery. They can also be hard to install in places where the ground is frozen for long periods of time. The cables also need to be connected to the homes in the area, which is not something that can be done quickly. The existing network in the countryside is often old and not upgraded to fibre, which means slower speeds. This can be especially challenging for healthcare providers who rely on internet connections for remote patient monitoring and telemedicine.

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