The word “Rural America” may mean scenic landscapes to some; to others, it may mean cleaner air and fewer people, but to my kids, it means slow internet or, as they call it, “Rural Internet.”
It turns out Rural Internet, according to Wikipedia, refers to the “characteristics of Internet service in rural areas (also referred to as "the country" or "countryside"), which are settled places outside towns and cities.”
So let’s take a look at the reasons Rural Internet is a thing and what can be done about it, including tips on how to stay connected if you are heading to the countryside for the holidays or perhaps you are planning on moving there soon.
WHY IS RURAL INTERNET SLOW?
One of the headaches of living in remote, rural areas is accessing High-Speed internet. Here are a few reasons why High-speed internet is hard to come by in rural areas;
- Geography: In rural areas, it’s commonplace to have lakes, streams, mountains, hills, and farmland, making laying cables pretty tricky and costly. Rural internet can also be affected by weather conditions.
- Poor-quality Infrastructure: Telephone lines that haven’t been upgraded in a while can reduce internet speeds to 26kbit per second or even less. Most Telephone companies would not bother to upgrade these lines due to the relatively small customer base.
- Operational Cost: When these Telecommunication companies consider the economics of upgrading, repairing, and maintaining the infrastructure necessary for High-Speed Internet access, they often decide not to bother.
- Distance between Homes: In rural areas, houses tend to be further apart than typical urban areas. The further away you are, the longer the cables are needed to connect you, which means slower speeds, especially for certain broadbands, leading to rural internet issues.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
Is rural internet kicking your ass? Here are some helpful tips that should help you stay connected even if you live in the most remote rural areas.
- Find a provider specializing in Remote Areas: You are bound to experience slower internet speeds if you stay outside a city area. Also, your high-speed internet provider options will be limited, but there should be a provider out there for you.
- Subscribe to a Fixed Wireless Service: Unlike cables and the other options, Fixed wireless signals are broadcast to your home by radio waves transmitted from a station. This service can be broadcast over large areas but isn’t much faster than your average rural internet speed.
- Troubleshoot your lines: If your speed occasionally hits a high Mbps, your line should be able to maintain it. You can have an expert test your lines for cable or router faults if it doesn’t.
- Login at Different Times: Sometimes, your Rural Internet may just be because of traffic on that line. Try logging in at different times of the day to see if there is a difference in internet speed.
- Change Your Router’s Position: Where you place your router may be behind your lack of high-speed internet. Avoid placing it beside or behind appliances or in closed spaces. Also, the higher the router, the better.
- Upgrade Your Router: When last did you change your router? Most old routers no longer support new high-speed internet technology. Find a router that works well with your internet provider’s services.
- Hard Reset Your Router: This should not be your first option. But if you must, make sure you have all your passwords and router details written down. Use a paperclip or a pen to access the router’s hard reset button. A hard reset isn’t a permanent solution, but it should reduce your rural internet problems.
- Install Anti-Malware/Virus software: You should have one of these installed in your system, but if you haven’t, do it now! Viruses and malware can sabotage your high-speed internet connection. Need I say more?
- Switch to Ethernet: I know Wi-Fi is all the rave, but here’s a shocker, Cabled connections like Ethernet are way faster and more reliable! This high-speed internet connection is mainly because your device receives the high-speed internet signal directly from the cable instead of over-the-air transmissions.
One of the downsides of living in the countryside or, in particular, rural areas is the lack of high-speed internet provider options. I mean, some rural regions experience internet speeds of less than 4mb/s. This disparity is popularly referred to as the digital divide.
Thankfully, High-Speed Internet service providers, in collaboration with The Federal Communications Commissions, are working to rectify rural internet issues by upgrading infrastructure and broadband connections in rural America.
So if you're visiting the country for the holidays or you live there, and you need that high-speed internet connection, try some of the tips mentioned above to see if they will be able to rectify those rural internet issues you are experiencing.
Alternatively, you could just exercise patience and wait till the digital divide is bridged, whenever that may be.