Satellite broadband for rural areas

Living in rural areas

My friend lives in a very rural area of Northumberland and her options for broadband are less than limited. She tried to upgrade her landline, tried all the big ones for 4G and the best what she can get is very poor 3G with barely enough bandwidth to open an email. In off-peak hours. Once people start coming back from work, around 5pm, she can’t even check weather. Unless she looks through the window, obviously. 

This problem is more widespread than people may think. Living in the city, or even in a town, makes us forget some areas may not be able to get the same type or quality of services we have. And at the same price. If I live in London, for example, I have several choices to consider, depending on my budget and needs. I can go after high end price and quality or opt for a budget level solution. I can even make decision based on my likes or perceptions of the brand. 

Now, if I live in rural area my choices are more limited. I may not be able to have several service or product providers. There may be two or three different options if I’m lucky. Some areas don’t have even that. 

Broadband for rural areas

Going back to broadband. Living in rural area limits this option drastically. Further away you live, less options, usually you have. And I don’t mean further from London. I mean further from the nearest urban location. It’s all about density of population. More houses close to each other, easier it is to deliver… anything. Just because of economy of scale. Imagine bringing fibre broadband to a location. It will cost several thousands to do it. Then you take what you can charge per month per household and calculate. It takes years to breakeven. So less potential customers in the area, smaller the chance to achieve profitability objective for the company. And less chance for you to get broadband. If there are only few houses where you live, the chance is you won’t be connected. That’s the reality. And the same applies to 4G connectivity. The masts are built where the customers are. And they have to pay for themselves. Eventually. 

What you can do then? Look for alternatives. Basically, look for satellite broadband provider. Traditionally, satellite internet was perceived as slow, unusable and costly. Very costly. With extra charges. And very limited data provision. This made sense, putting a satellite into the space costs a lot of money. Service providers had to maximise their profitability by onboarding as many customers as they could. With giving them as little as possible. 

Satellite Broadband in the UK

This has changed though few years back. Due to competition satellite broadband providers started changing their offering giving customers more data at a lower price point. To the point satellite broadband plans compete, price-wise, with mobile and fibre broadband price plans. Take Konnect Satellite Broadband in the UK as an example, they are Eutelsat brand, a well known European satellite company, and they offer unlimited price plans starting from £29.99 per month. That’s quite cheap. Satellite internet is not fibre, obviously, and has certain limitations that make is a less endowed brother of the prior. Still, the speeds of Konnect satellite broadband are pretty impressive for a satellite, reaching 75Mbps in average. With this kind of speeds you can watch Netflix or You Tube movies, listen to the music, browse the Internet. All you really need to do. 

Satellite internet comes with certain limits though. The satellite itself is quite far so the latency is very high, in comparison with traditional fibre broadband. This makes satellite broadband not the best option in some cases. If you work from home and satellite internet is going to be your main connection, make sure it works with your VPN. If you use one. Some VPNs are not handling high latency. Also, if you want to use it for gaming, it’s probably not the best choice as it’s not really compatible with game consoles and, again, latency makes a difference. 

Still, it’s an option and sometimes it’s better to have satellite broadband than nothing. Maybe the best idea is to try to talk to your rural broadband provider. There are companies out there specializing in serving rural areas. Sometimes all they need to do is to tweak what’s already available. Other times it’s more difficult. In many cases satellite internet is really your only option.