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Last updated: 23/07/2020 | Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Rural broadband

Broadband in rural areas is often slow, and at times can even be non-existent. In many rural parts of the country the problem is so bad that despite a choice of providers, many choices are inadequate. This guide will help you find a solution for your broadband problems.

In This Guide:

Why is rural broadband so bad?

In 2017 around 1.1 million homes and businesses were unable to reach adequate broadband speeds. Rural broadband tends to be particularly slow due to a lack of infrastructure. Super-fast broadband has also been slower to reach rural areas as fibre-optic cable installation has been focused largely on urban centres.

If you live in a rural area where houses are far apart, your broadband speeds are likely to be slow whether you pay for standard ADSL or splash out for cable. This is because both rely on being close to telephone exchanges and street cabinets for their speed. The further you are from this connection the slower your broadband will be.

The good news is that there are alternatives to ADSL and  service to find out what’s available in your area.

Will rural broadband get faster?

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) announced by the government and BT means that everyone in the UK now has the right to download speeds of at least 10Mbps.

The Government has also delivered on its commitment to provide 95% of the UK with broadband speeds of 24Mbps or faster. Unfortunately, most of the 95% are in urban areas but it does mean that faster broadband is becoming more accessible.

If you don’t want to wait for ADSL or fibre to improve in your area there are other options.

Mobile broadband in rural areas

If a standard ADSL connection isn’t working for you then you might want to consider mobile broadband. Faster networks like 4G have made mobile broadband a viable alternative and it has the added benefit of being portable.

Mobile broadband can be a great alternative to ADSL and sometimes is even faster. However, mobile signal is notoriously patchy in the countryside so you will need to make sure you have good coverage before signing up to a mobile broadband contract.

Satellite broadband in rural areas

Satellite broadband could be another great alternative to ADSL or fibre connections. All you need for satellite broadband is a dish that points towards a satellite, meaning it can be great for the most remote locations.

Satellite broadband is available anywhere because it doesn’t rely on a fixed line. However it can have significant installation costs and you will have a restricted data allowance. Satellite broadband also tends to suffer from lag meaning that it isn’t ideal for streaming or online gaming.

The good news is that your installation costs could be subsidised. The Government offers a scheme of subsidised satellite broadband to homes and businesses without an affordable connection of at least 2Mbps. If you are really struggling with your broadband connection then satellite could be your best option.

Better broadband in my area

If poor broadband connection is a problem for your whole area, then you might be able to club together to lobby for better service.

A community broadband scheme is when a group of people lobby broadband providers for a better service. Using a community broadband scheme, you could get some of the  in a very remote area, but you’ll need to make sure your group is big enough to make it cost effective!

The Rural Broadband Partnership can help you find out whether there is a project in your area. If there isn’t, it will help you start your own community group. If you can get a community together you may even be eligible for a grant to help your community broadband project.

Broadband deals in my area

If mobile or satellite broadband isn’t for you and you can’t get a community project off the ground, you can still get broadband with a cable or fibre-optic connection.

Most households in the UK have an ADSL connection. It’s usually the easiest way to get  and as long as you have a telephone line you can get ADSL broadband. However, if you live a long way from the nearest telephone exchange you may find your ADSL connection painfully slow.

Fibre-optic broadband is a super-fast option but it also depends on your distance from the street cabinet. If you live in a really remote area, you are unlikely to get the benefits of super-fast broadband. Paying for a fibre to premises connection is guaranteed to get you fast internet, however it can cost thousands of pounds and you will have to cover this cost yourself.

If you are looking for  in a rural area make sure you compare your options before committing to a contract. Try using our comparison tool to find the best broadband deals in your area.