Technology Is Improving – Why Is Rural Broadband Access Still A Problem?

It will not be wrong to say that there is indeed a digital divide to broadband access between the rural and the urban areas. We witness so many technological advancements every single day and the government has worked much to provide more infrastructure in the rural areas for the telecom industry to offer services in such areas. In today’s advancing world, we are used to high-speed internet and cannot imagine our lives without it. But limited broadband accessibility is a reality for most Americans living in rural areas. This lack of accessibility to the internet affects every aspect of their lives, especially when it comes to taking advantage of educational and entrepreneurial activities. The good news is that there is hope for improvement as different units come together to enhance internet connectivity in these unserved areas. High-quality internet service providers like CenturyLink are trying to provide more and more coverage and prove to be one of the best options to enjoy a decent speed of internet in the underserved areas.

Distance is a Concern

A couple of the basic issues is distance and population density. Telecommunication companies prefer installing new lines in the areas that are densely populated because that is more profitable. From an economic perspective, there are a larger number of customers present, who can share the installation costs. Especially when talking about the more reliable fiber-optic lines, they are more profitable for the urban areas.

So when it comes to the rural areas, the installation cost can be a lot more than the generated revenues because of the lower population density. Companies are not willing to invest in laying infrastructure in rural areas because of the lower number of potential users every mile.

In case these areas are served by copper wires, distance becomes a major limitation in sending high-speed data. The reason is that signals become degraded after around every three to four miles. To combat that and get data traveling longer distances in the rural areas, companies are required to install access multipliers for amplifying the signals. This further adds to the cost of installation for the customers.

Lesser Competition

There is ever-growing competition in the urban areas where more and more providers are available everywhere, to offer their internet services. Due to the rising competition in the market, around three to four providers on average are providing coverage in an area. So, customers have more options to choose from. This competition leads to the lowering of prices of the available internet plans in your vicinity. However, in the case of rural areas, we do not observe such a competition because of limited broadband availability. This encourages internet providers to raise the cost of internet services available in such underserved areas.

Satellite Internet Availability-A Good News

One of the biggest benefits of satellite internet is the widespread availability that makes it a much feasible option for rural residents. All you need is a dish antenna to be mounted at the correct angle on your roof. It is usually the only available option for such areas since cable lines are not reachable. Satellite internet providers offer a good speed that works well for carrying out most of the online activities. However, most of the satellite providers do impose data caps so if you reach your data cap limit before the month ends and continue using data, you will have to pay an additional fee. Although, there are those providers as well who do not limit their users with a data limit and offer unlimited internet usage.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Satellite Internet Service in Rural Areas

In case you have to choose among rural internet options available to you, you must consider the following aspects before you subscribe to any of them.

  • Buy the Data You Need

Most of the rural internet options are not cheap and can charge you a greater cost. Therefore, be careful to avoid any unlimited data plans if you do not need them. Since that would make you pay more for what you do not require. You should keep a check on your internet usage for a month or so and find an internet plan that matches it for a more appealing cost.

  • Compare Installation and Equipment Cost

Make sure you compare the installation and equipment costs charged by the satellite providers in your area. You can also negotiate for a discount with the provider.

  • Beware of Price Hikes

You might be charged a lower promotional price and later suffer paying much more after a few months. Be cautious to pick a provider that offers service at a constant price.

The Trend of Wireless Services

Mobile wireless services are not the same as wired services. The fact is that wireless broadband technology does require laying wires for wireless coverage. Though it would be true to say that the wireless services have undergone much improvement over time.  Cellular networks have upgraded to 3G, 4G or 4GLTE services that have boosted the mobile upload and download speeds. The rural residents have been more inclined towards availing internet connections on their smartphones. We see a rising trend of more and more users in the underserved areas opting for some wireless mobile internet connection. However, they might not be fast enough but that might be an appealing option because of the lack of any other internet connection facility.

The Bottom Line

It is a fact that the rural population is still struggling and has not been able to access broadband completely but still, it is on its road to improvement. There are many projects initiated by the government that is in the pipeline and will aid in technological growth and better connectivity options for the rural areas. Satellite internet providers are spreading their coverage in underserved areas where cable internet is not a feasible option. Shortly, rural areas will surely have more options when it comes to faster and more reliable internet connectivity.

Unnati Vaidya is a freelancer Content Writer and SEO generalist. She is an enthusiastic reader of Novels and a big fan of watching Sci-fi movies and seasons!

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