I love living in the countryside. It's peaceful, safe and clean, with lots of space for walking the dog, but broadband access is terrible. On television there are countless adverts for BT's infinity service, and Virgin Media's new TiVo box. Yet whenever I see them I shrug, knowing that it's simply not in the telecom companies' commercial interests to roll out broadband to rural areas. BT has promised that some areas will be getting superfast Fibre-to-the-Premises service, with speeds of up to 300megabits per second (Mbps) by next spring.
However in rural areas, homeowners are stuck with broadband down the phoneline at a fraction of the speed. On a good day I am lucky to get 0.5 Mbps. So what are the options? As more and more services such as high definition video, online gaming and music streaming become available over the internet, it's more important than ever to have a decent connection.
As the name suggests, this involves attaching a satellite to your house and sending and receiving your internet connection through it. You don't need a phone line but, despite this, it's still very expensive. Ideal for places that are totally inaccessible.
Rutland Telecom is an ISP that not only provides the broadband service, but installs fibre optic cable directly to the user. It initially began as a project to get broadband to the rural village of Lyddington, and, following national publicity, the company is doing feasibility studies on the costs of bringing fibre optic broadband to rural locations without BT's involvement. The start up costs are high, and it is only worthwhile in a village where most of the residents are interested in accessing the service. Unless I can persuade all my neighbours to pitch in, this might be out of my reach.
BT Fibre Optic Roll Out
Some good news finally from BT: two thirds of UK premises will be covered by their new fibre optic service by the end of 2014. A recent report sugegsted that the UK is 25th in the world in terms of average broadband speeds. Although the speed is increasing in the towns and cities, rural areas are being left behind. Still, after spending all day in front of my computer, sometimes it's quite nice to go offline for a while! What do you think? Is your broadband speed an important part of your quality of life? Let me know on Twitter at @chris5marsh