While most of the UK now has access to high speed broadband there are a small percentage of homes which still do not have modern connectivity, many of them in rural areas. Government promises of guaranteed speeds and investment in broadband infrastructure may solve this for you in the near future, but until then there are some affordable solutions to broadband woes which you can get right now.
Checking broadband availability
The best place to get an overview of WI-FI access in your location is the SamKnows broadband availability site. You can search by postcode or phone number, and see exactly what services are available at every telephone exchange in the country. In addition to displaying fixed line broadband coverage, SamKnows also lists some Wi-Fi providers which cover areas without fixed line internet access.
Getting broadband in rural areas
Fixed line services using ADSL or fibre optic technology are often not available in rural locations, or may be very slow. If this describes your situation here are some alternatives which may do the job instead.
The latest 4G mobile technology can provide impressive speeds, with a strong signal you may get a faster connection than fixed line ADSL.
There are some caveats however. The biggest problem is signal coverage: if you are in a rural area without good fixed line internet then there may not be much mobile signal either. But if you can receive a faint signal it is possible to install an external antenna to boost the signal, significantly improving connection speeds.
The other consideration is cost. Standard mobile packages do not typically offer large data allowances, so anything other than light usage is going to become expensive as you exceed the data cap. There are higher capacity packages designed for home use, but these aren’t cheap: EE charges £100 per month for a 200GB limit.
There are smaller ISPs (such as Kijoma) offering broadband access via long range Wi-Fi signals to cover rural areas where fixed line connectivity is poor. And all you’ll need to get Wi-Fi is an antenna on the outside of your home, connected to a modem and Wi-Fi router inside.
There aren’t many of these around but it’s worth investigating whether a wireless ISP is in your area as it can be fast and affordable.
If all else fails there’s always satellite internet. As the signal covers the whole country, the only requirement for getting satellite broadband is that you must be able to install a dish with a clear view of the sky. Even the most remote home can get fast WI-FI via satellite..
Downsides? Satellite connections suffer from extremely high latency (lag) as the signal is bounced back and forth from space. This isn’t something you’ll notice for web browsing or file transfers, but it will impact activities which are reliant on very fast communications such as VOIP (Skype) and online gaming. It’s not the cheapest way to get broadband, either. The setup fees are higher than normal, and running costs are slightly more than you might pay for a typical fixed line home service. Most satellite packages also have fairly strict data usage allowances, though deals with unlimited use at off-peak times are common.