If there’s one major drawback of living in the beautiful English countryside, it’s the patchy broadband which is usually much slower than in the cities. In fact, recent stats from Ofcom found that rural areas in England are getting half the average broadband speed than urban areas (17.5Mb compared to 35.2Mb). It’s even worse in Scotland, where the average speed is a mere 13.2Mb. This makes you wonder if there’s anything you can do about slow rural broadband.
Luckily, yes, there are ways to improve this. Here’s how to improve broadband speed in rural areas.
1. Working with What You’ve Got
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to try and improve your broadband speed is to enhance what you’ve already got. For example:
- Secure your WiFi - if your WiFi isn’t password protected, anyone from outside your household could piggyback onto your connection without you realising. Their activities can eat up your bandwidth and significantly slow your speeds down as a result.
- Move your router to somewhere central and high up - household items and appliances like the microwave, baby monitors and fairy lights can interfere with the wireless broadband signal because they emit electromagnetic waves. Even walls can cause interference because the further you are from the router, the weaker the signal. Ideally, your router should be positioned somewhere central and high up.
- Close any programs or applications that you’re not using - Software updates, social media apps, open website tabs, file downloads and more - if these are open in the background, they could be using up your bandwidth without you even noticing. Close any of these services that you’re not currently using and see if that makes a difference to your broadband speed.
- Try an Ethernet cable - connecting your device to your router via the Ethernet cable can boost the speed because you’d be directly connected rather than relying on a wireless signal (which can be affected by interference). But this isn’t always practical, especially if your router is in an awkward position.
- Try powerline adapters - powerline adapters use the electric power lines in your home and help boost broadband signal by creating a “bridge” between your device and the router. This can be useful in homes where the router and devices are at opposite ends of the building.
Though these tricks are quick and simple, they’re not permanent solutions. They only treat the symptoms (the slow broadband) rather than finding out why it’s slow in the first place. The following tips are a better idea if you want a rural broadband solution that actually works…
2. Reduce Signal Interference with a Microfilter or Filtered Faceplate
Accessories like a microfilter or a filtered faceplate can help speed up your broadband if signal interference is the reason for the poor speeds.
A microfilter plugs into your master socket and has two sockets: one that connects to your router and one that connects to your phone line. This will separate broadband and voice signals so they won’t interfere with each other.
A filtered faceplate is an alternative to the microfilter. Rather than simply separating the signals via two connections, a faceplate filters the broadband signal right at the source - the master socket. This means only the broadband signal is separated from the rest of the extension cabling in your home.
This helps to significantly reduce the amount of interference suffered by the broadband signal and makes for a more reliable connection. It can be even more effective than a microfilter.
3. Know the Rural Broadband Options that Are Available for You
There are various different types of broadband but not all are suitable for rural areas. This is largely due to the fact that popular options, like asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) and fixed wireless, deliver broadband to homes from another source.
For instance, ADSL delivers broadband via the nearest telephone exchange and fixed wireless from the nearest transmitter. The further you are from the nearest exchange or transmitter, the slower your broadband is likely to be as the signal has to travel further. By the time it reaches your village, it’ll probably be quite weak.
However, there are other more suitable rural broadband options, including:
- Bonded broadband - this is where multiple lines are connected to create a single one which is, in theory, faster. However, this is only available from specialist broadband providers and the startup costs and monthly fees can be quite high. For this reason, bonded broadband is better for rural businesses rather than homes.
- Satellite broadband - there’s no need to have a phone line with satellite broadband, but you do need specialist equipment. It also tends to be quite expensive, with high setup and monthly fees. In addition, most plans have data allowance caps and satellite broadband tends to be higher latency than other types of broadband which can lead to ‘lags’ in online games and if you’re streaming videos.
- Mobile broadband - if you have good 4G coverage in your village, mobile broadband can be a good alternative to all of the above. But, we all know how patchy mobile coverage can be - especially in rural areas. There also tends to be data allowance caps and heavy charges if you go over so it may not be a cost-effective option for home use.
- Fibre optic broadband - known as the future of broadband, fibre optic is the fastest option in all locations. There are two main types: fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP). FTTC uses copper cables to deliver broadband to your home from the green cabinet. While this is typically faster than other options, copper cables are outdated and usually produces inconsistent speeds, depending on how far your home is from the cabinet. In contrast, FTTP uses light and glass wires to deliver broadband to your home which transmits data nearly 10 times faster than copper. This is known as pure fibre broadband.
4. Choose a Specialist Rural Broadband Provider
Once you know what types of broadband are available to you in the countryside, the next step is to choose a provider who specialises in rural broadband. These providers know and understand your struggles with slow, unreliable broadband. They’ll be much more committed to helping you access the ultrafast connection that we all need.
Whether you’re banking online or Skyping the kids who are at university, you shouldn’t be having to endure choppy picture quality and a connection that constantly cuts out just because you live in the countryside. Your location shouldn’t be a disadvantage. The right rural broadband provider will help supply the ideal solution.
Find Out More About Rural Broadband and the Solutions Available
For more information about rural broadband, internet speeds and what you can do to improve your situation, download our free eBook below. It’s packed with tips, tricks and answers to all the questions you might have.