A simples guide

Broadband in rural areas

If you look at a coverage map of where in Britain has superfast broadband, a worrying picture emerges for those that live in or even near the countryside. While London, Manchester, Cardiff and other large cities have fast broadband speeds, rural areas just a few miles away may be super-slow.

Old cottages

I live in a rural area. Will I get faster broadband soon?

The government’s Broadband Delivery UK initiative aims to provide superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by December 2017. But in the mostly rural areas where it won’t be available, the government and BT have proposed a deal that could see a new Universal Service Obligation (USO), which aims to give everyone the legal right to ask providers for a broadband download speed of at least 10Mbps. However, you might have quite a wait for this as the government intends it to be in place by 2020.

What broadband speed can I get in rural areas?

Unfortunately, if you don’t live in an area where fibre lines are connected, ‘up to speeds’ – which are often quoted at 17Mbps – aren’t typically available to rural households as the speed along copper wire deteriorates the further you move from the exchange. As this can be several miles in rural areas, broadband speeds are often just a fraction of those quoted.

Broadband

What can I do in the meantime?

If you live in the countryside, the only realistic option in the short term could be to make do with the broadband service you get. However, you might want to investigate the following options:

Mobile broadband

Broadband over mobile networks has become viable as an alternative to telephone lines, particularly with new faster networks like 4G. They’re normally referred to as Mobile Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi on the go. However, the obvious problem with this as a solution for many rural households is that the mobile reception could be as poor as the broadband speeds.

Register your interest

Sign up and register your interest for fibre broadband with BT. The more people that sign up, the better. If there’s a return to be had on BT’s investment, the chances are you’ll be more likely to get a faster service.

Start a local petition

If enough of you club together, you can potentially convince the government that your area should be added to the superfast broadband roll-out list. If others in your community are as frustrated as you, then they might have already begun this process, so find out and add your name.

The Rural Broadband Partnership can help you find out whether there’s a project in your area with the aim of obtaining faster broadband; if there isn’t, they can help you start your own community group. You’ll find more information here.

Fund it between your neighbours

It has been known for local communities or entire villages to club together to pay for the installation of fibre broadband. If you have like-minded neighbours, this could be a help.

Others have avoided the main suppliers completely and chosen to ask a private company to install a local network. You’ll need to be prepared to pay more by choosing this route, but it might be worth it to you.

Reach out to a smaller supplier

Sometimes companies will get a special grant for rural broadband roll-out. Ask about to see if any smaller organisations will be willing to support you.

Satellite broadband

Satellite broadband sounds, in theory, like a genuine alternative to cabled broadband services. Essentially, all you need is a dish that can point towards a satellite. However, despite prices having come down in recent years, there are still significant installation costs, restrictive data allowances, reports of poor performance (including downtime and ‘lags’) and, in some instances, indifferent customer service.

If you’re thinking of going down this route, do some research and talk to the provider about what guarantees they will give on your service.

Compare broadband availability

Although supplier options are usually very limited in rural areas, it’s still worth checking to see what’s available to you. We’ve made that really simple with our broadband comparison service. Just tell us where you live and we’ll show you a list of available deals. All you need to do is choose the one that suits you best.

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