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Opportunities of Rural Satellite Broadband

Satellite broadband used to be a very expensive business with low data plans and extra charges for additional usage. these extra charges combined with very low speeds made a very bad name for this type of broadband. You would need to be very rich and have very low requirements to enjoy satellite connection.

rural satellite broadband

Still, satellite broadband footprint was growing. Every year thousands of new custoemrs would acquire these slow and costly services and keep it, for years. And we are not talking here about government or military purchases. We are also not talking about special cases of industrial use. These are quite simple. Military needs satellite connectivity. So does government. If we think about wind farms satellite connectivity seems to be the only solution to connectivity in that industry. So these are quite simple. Digitalisation of our society through Internet connectivity is a fact. Sectors like education, heathcare, and obviously businesses, they all need Internet. Being connected is now more crucial than ever. We simply need to bew able to connect to global audience.

Why would residential users go with satellite though? Internet access is shaping our realities and defining access to value-based commodities, essential services, income, etc. As simple as that. We all need connectivity because it’s hard to live without beiong connected.

Living in rural areas, far from the rush of urban life, is great. We have more time, better quality of life, our houses are more spacious. And we have proper gardens, not just a couple of square meters walled off to prevent neighbours from seeing what we do. At the same time, rural areas don’t have the same kind of access as urban dwellers do. It is easy for commerical ISPs to get people connected in the high density area but when it comes to villages money is simply not there.

As a result, when we started shifting from old phones and letters towards emails and Zooms (or other Skypes) urban communities were more prepared for the rapid shift while rural communities were left behind lacking instracture and volume… meaning people willing to pay for providing infrastructural developments. And this is exactly where rural satellite broadband comes to play. To serve underserved areas that cannot get anythig else. Let’s take a deeper dive into how providing rural communities with satellite internet can help them bridge the digital divide. 

Rural Satellite Broadband Revolution

We mentioned some challenges of satellite connectivity above. Slow speeds and extra charges. This was the state of affairs for a long, long time. This has changed though, quite drastically. For the past few years satellite technologies advanced and global leaders in satellite broadband provision started charging much lower prices combined with better service. Companies like Viasat or Eutelsat are now offering services at a comparable price point to fibre or mobile services. And with comparable service. Obviously, satellite is not a standard fibre connection. The signal has to travel over 70,000km so the latency will be much higher than what we would expect from local fibre provider but still, unless we are hardcore gamers, we won’t see much difference.

Modern satellite services, like those of Konnect Satellite Broadband (brand of Eutelsat) offer speeds we often still dream of in rural areas. Someone connected through old copper lines gets probably max of 24Mbps while satellite service can already provide up to 100Mbps. And we are talking here about “traditional” geostationary service. Starlink LEO service can easily double that while also reducing latency. At a cost though. Everything costs money nowadays.

Is internet access important?

A good question. According to UK government in 2020 96% of households in the United Kingdom had access to Internet, up from 57% in 2006. this is quite impressive but tells us nothing. To know if we need it we have to know how we use it.

Some interesting facts about internet usage in the UK:

  • 76% of adults in the UK in 2020 used Internet banking (up from 30% in 2007)
  • 87% of adults shopped online in 2020 (up from 53% in 2008)
  • 18% of adults used internet-connected energy or lights control (26% for people aged 35 to 44)

The above figures are quite telling, especially if we take into account the difference between early 2000s and now. Internet connectivity is important and becomes a significant factor influencing the quality of our living.

Unlock digital opportunities with the help of the best satellite broadband 

Telehealth– Consult with your doctor

Perhaps one of the most important sectors to get affected by the lack of internet opportunities is access to medicine. As patients increasingly want to stay home to lower the risk of infection, the reliance on telemedicine is growing increasingly day by day. Urban areas with access to both services and face-to-face consultations probably don’t even think how easy they have but living in rural area can be more challenging. We may need to travel to see a doctor. We have to travel even further to see a specialist. It’s nice to have a trip when we want to but when we need to, it’s a different matter. And sometimes we simply cannot. Not having standard broadband connection leaves us exposed, with no access to services we would have otherwise had.

In remote areas, however, telehealth has been slow to catch on. With slow internet speeds, it is almost impossible to get reliable healthcare services. It force them to either travel far to hospitals and risk infection or not receive care at all. 

And we shouldn’t forget the impact of pandemic and lockdowns on access to health services. In many countries seeing a doctor was virtually impossible for nearly 2 years and the only way to “speak” to someone was via video call… and that requires a good Internet connection.

Education with rural satellite broadband

Education facilities were among the first institutions to close their doors and transition to online operations. Similar to the healthcare system, students in the remote areas were either late or did not transition to the alternate learning approaches adopted by institutions in the wake of social distancing norms. Obviously, online education is not the same… at least it’s what we used to think, but it’s catching up. Services like edX or Coursera are able to provide quality courses that can help students to advance,

The “homework gap” as the phenomenon is called, refers to the disproportionate access to participate in distance education using online resources like internet. This disparity further leads to an “achievement gap”. That students in the rural communities will fall behind in their academic approach as compared to the students with access to virtual learning methods. 

Remote work (Work From Home)

The impact of lockdowns and social distancing on the labour market is undeniably immense. An increasing number of companies have shifted their operations to remote work or a hybrid model with rotational shifts. 

To be able to work remotely, employees need access to high-speed, secure internet that can handle online collaboration tools, large file transfers, video conferencing, etc. In urban areas with a comprehensive broadband network, remote work is comparatively easier. The rural workforce, however, is considerably left behind. Without access to the best satellite broadband, businesses will not be able to connect to their audience. This can lead to sustainability and economic implications. 

Closing the digital divide in this “new normal” is a top agenda for several governments and organizations globally. Empowering rural satellite broadband providers is crucial in this process as they can help provide new opportunities to the communities holding immense potential but left behind as the world becomes heavily dependent on the internet. 

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