The challenges of delivering rural broadband
Demand for faster, more reliable broadband has never been higher.
Whether that’s enabling us to work from home more effectively (especially as we rely on applications such as Zoom and Teams), enjoying online gaming or streaming HD movies on a Friday night – lightning-fast broadband is a must.
For most of us, that’s not really an issue as the rollout of full fibre networks continues to increase across the UK. ISP Review reports 76% of UK premises can now access gigabit-capable (1000Mbps) connections.
But unfortunately, the full fibre rollout isn’t evenly distributed. While most towns and cities are enjoying a choice of full fibre providers, packages and options, more rural areas are at risk of being completely left behind as it’s just not as economically viable to build out to these harder to reach areas. Just 40% of rural premises can access gigabit capable connections and for rural businesses it’s even worse, with only 27% coverage compared to 53% for their urban counterparts.
That’s why the Government is supporting the development of full fibre networks across the UK through Project Gigabit which is providing £5billion to ensure hard to reach communities gain access to gigabit capable connectivity. Most recently, a £7million fund was also launched as part of the ‘Unleashing Rural Opportunity’ action plan which utilises various technologies such as satellite, wireless and fixed line solutions to support the hardest to reach businesses.
Why is it so difficult?
Connecting rural communities can be difficult for a number of reasons but it mainly comes down to natural geography and cost. The natural landscape can pose multiple challenges to building and connecting a fixed line network. Think hills, valleys, streams, rivers, etc. Where the landscape is particularly challenging (like the Scottish Highlands or the Welsh Mountains for example) alternative technologies can be implemented including satellite and wireless solutions. Here in Shropshire we have similar challenges and regularly utilise FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) but these solutions can still be far from simple with potential disruption from storms and even interference from growing trees!
Add to this the physical distance from the nearest exchanges (usually located in larger towns and cities) and the associated cost of building out the fixed line full fibre networks from those exchanges for miles to reach remote villages and hamlets. For most providers, the costs outweigh the potential benefits to connect small collections of premises and therefore potential customers.
That’s not stopping us!
But that’s not stopping SWS Broadband. We started in 2005 by doing exactly this. Our aim remains to connect the hardest to reach rural communities in Shropshire and provide them with fast and reliable broadband services. Originally, we did this by using wireless technologies (such as FWA), something we still provide. But now we are also building our own full fibre networks across rural Shropshire to bring gigabit capable connections to our customers.
We are a registered supplier with the Government Broadband Voucher Scheme (Project Gigabit) which enables us to access vouchers from the Government on behalf of our customers. These vouchers support the cost of building our full fibre network into hard to reach areas where it would not normally be commercially viable and enable us to provide free installations to our customers*.
To find out if we are building in your area and when you could potentially benefit from one of our gigabit capable connections visit swsbroadband.net and use our helpful postcode checker.
*Subject to contract terms. Ts & Cs apply. See swsbroadband.net for more information.
Project Gigabit - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Project Gigabit slow in making progress in rural areas - Rural Services Network (rsnonline.org.uk)
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