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Broadband in rural areas

Broadband in rural areas

If you live in a rural area you may still find that your broadband speeds are achingly slow. Find out why and get a few solutions to getting better broadband for rural areas in our guide.

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
minute read
posted 20 NOVEMBER 2019

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

With any luck, many people living in rural areas will get faster broadband soon. The government has now delivered on its commitment to provide broadband with speeds of 24Mbps or faster to 95% of the UK.  

However, in 5% of – mostly rural – areas, this still isn’t available. Ofcom’s 2017 Connected Nations report revealed that around 1.1 million homes and businesses were unable to receive broadband speeds of 10Mbps and 2.6 million were unable to receive speeds of 30Mpbs.

To address this, the government and BT have announced a Universal Service Obligation (USO), which gives everyone in the UK the right to download speeds of at least 10Mbps by 2020.

Why are broadband speeds slower in rural areas?

Broadband is slower in rural areas partly because of infrastructure – the roll-out of fibre optic cable has been slower in rural areas than urban ones. It’s also partly because rural homes are likely to be some distance from street cabinets and telephone exchanges. Broadband speed deteriorates the further it has to travel along a copper wire, and as this can be several miles in rural areas broadband speeds are often a fraction of those quoted.

What are the alternatives to cable and fibre broadband?

There are a couple of alternatives to cable and fibre broadband, but they both have drawbacks.

Mobile broadband: broadband over mobile networks can be a viable alternative to phone lines, particularly with new faster networks like 4G. However, the problem with this for many rural households is you need a strong mobile signal and the download speeds can be low.

Satellite broadband: all you need for this 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.

Is there anything else I can do to get faster broadband?

You may be able to get together with other people in your area to lobby for faster broadband services. Getting better broadband for rural areas can be difficult, but the Rural Broadband Partnership can help you find out whether there’s a project in your area and if there isn’t, they can help you start your own community group. Find more information on community broadband projects on their website.

You can also:

  • Register your interest in 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 other people in your community are as frustrated as you, then they might have already begun this process, so find out and add your name.
  • Fund faster broadband with your neighbours: it’s 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 work.
  • Ask a private company to install a local network. You’ll need to be prepared to pay more by choosing this route, but it may 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.

Compare broadband deals

Although broadband provider options are usually more limited in rural areas, it’s still worth checking to see what’s available to you. 

We’ve made it really simple with our broadband comparison service. Just tell us where your postcode and we’ll show you a list of available deals and you can choose the best one for you.

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