Broadband for Remote Workers in Rural Areas in the UK

Remote work has become increasingly popular over the past few years. However, many remote workers based in rural areas face challenges due to limited broadband options. This article explores the key considerations around broadband for remote workers in rural areas and how to get the right internet for your needs.

Table of Contents

Comparing Rural and Urban Broadband Speeds and Reliability

Broadband internet speeds in rural areas are typically much slower than in urban locations. While urban residents may enjoy connections above 100Mbps, rural areas often have maximum speeds of 10-20Mbps.

Reliability is also a major issue. Rural connections are impacted by factors like distance to the nearest telephone exchange, outdated network infrastructure, and weather conditions. Urban broadband is much less susceptible to disruption.

This speed and reliability gap is a real hinderance for rural remote workers using cloud software, video calls, VPN connections, and other bandwidth-intensive applications. An urban home worker may handle these tasks seamlessly, while a rural worker struggles with dropouts and delays.

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Cost Comparisons of Unlimited vs Capped Data Plans

Most major broadband providers offer both unlimited and capped data plans. Capped plans tend to be cheaper, but lead to extra charges once the monthly data limit is exceeded.

Unlimited data plans remove the risk of excess usage fees. However, rural connections with capped bandwidth can become very congested during peak times. This leads to slow speeds for all users.

Rural remote workers need to evaluate their usage requirements and budget to choose between capped and unlimited data. Usage can be tracked through the ISP account portal.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Connections

Another key consideration is synchronous versus asynchronous broadband.

Asynchronous connections have much faster download speeds than uploads. This matches typical home usage patterns, like streaming video. However, remote workers require similar performance for uploading and downloading.

Synchronous connections have equal upload and download speeds. This enables activities like video calls and cloud backups to run smoothly. Asynchronous connections can disrupt these synchronous tasks.

Rural workers should check if synchronous services are available in their area. These are sometimes marketed as “business grade” packages.

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Business Level Packages and Support

Major ISPs offer business-grade broadband packages with better support and guarantees. This includes benefits like:

  • Faster resolution of connection issues
  • Clear service level agreements (SLAs) for factors like uptime and repair times
  • Static IP addresses for connecting to company VPNs and systems
  • Higher speeds and data allowances

The improved support and reliability comes at a premium price. Rural remote workers who rely on their connection for work should consider paying extra for a business package.

Tips for Renters With No ISP Choice

Rural remote workers who rent have limited control over their broadband connection. Typically, the landlord has an existing deal with one ISP.

In this situation, try negotiating with the landlord for an upgraded package in return for a slightly higher rent. Present the business case around how reliable broadband is critical for you to work productively from home.

Also ask about installing a third party wireless router. This can enhance the performance of an existing connection through features like antenna upgrades and QoS controls.

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Using Third Party Routers for Better Performance

Supplying your own router instead of using the basic ISP model brings several advantages.

Third party routers allow you to:

  • Tweak settings for faster speeds and better stability
  • Connect external antennas to improve the connection quality
  • Set up a mesh network for full property coverage
  • Manage bandwidth allocation between devices
  • Enhance security through firewalls and VPNs

With some ISPs, you may need to request for them to put their provided model into ‘bridge’ mode. This allows your router to handle all the intelligent features.

Upgrading to an enterprise-grade router helps maximize both speed and reliability of marginal rural broadband connections.

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Conclusion and Final Tips

While rural remote workers face some distinct broadband challenges, there are steps they can take to improve the situation. By researching the best providers available for their location, considering paying extra for business grade packages and support, choosing synchronous services where possible for consistent speeds, investing in a high-quality wireless router to optimize connectivity, negotiating with landlords for upgraded internet if renting, and tracking usage to pick between capped and unlimited data plans, rural remote workers can create a viable setup for productive work. Connectivity is key, so taking steps to enhance speed, reliability, and support is a wise investment.

Cover yourself with these top tips to make sure you don’t get caught out when your internet goes down:

  • Have a backup plan in case of internet outages. This could include tethering to a mobile phone, using a cellular hotspot, or working from a coffee shop or library.
  • Be aware of the different types of broadband connections available in rural areas and the pros and cons of each. This will help them choose the best option for their needs.
  • Learn how to troubleshoot common broadband problems. This will help them get their internet connection back up and running quickly.
  • Be aware of the resources available to rural remote workers who are struggling with their internet connection. These resources can provide support and advice.

FAQ

What internet speed do I need for remote work?

For remote work, an internet connection with at least 10 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload is recommended. Faster speeds of 25+ Mbps down and 10+ Mbps up will provide better performance for video calls, cloud access, and file sharing.

How can I test my internet speed?

You can test your internet speed using online speed test tools from providers like Speedtest.net and Fast.com. This will check both your download and upload speeds. Run tests at different times of day to check for peak usage slowdowns.

How can I improve my rural internet reliability?

For rural areas, look into connectivity technologies like satellite (StarLink), fixed wireless, and cellular broadband to improve reliability. Also invest in a good quality router and consider redundancy options like a backup mobile hotspot.

What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous connections?

Synchronous connections have equal download and upload speeds, while asynchronous connections have faster downloads than uploads. Synchronous is better for remote work tools like videoconferencing that require balanced performance.

Should I pay more for a business internet plan?

Business plans offer improved service levels, dedicated support, and guaranteed uptime so can be worth the additional cost for remote workers relying on the connection. Review the business service details from providers to decide if the premium is justified.

How do I choose between unlimited and capped data plans?

Compare your usage to the data cap amount and charges for excess use. Unlimited is safer if you use a lot of data, but capped plans may suffice if you stay under the limit and can save money. Track your usage before deciding.

What is the benefit of a mesh network for home internet?

Mesh networks have multiple access points to provide complete WiFi coverage throughout your home. This ensures you have fast, reliable access in every room without dead spots. Mesh systems are easy to set up for full home coverage.