Date published 24/01/2017

Can your rural business’s telecoms be improved?

The UK is bottom in Europe for Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) and ranks 54th in the world for availability of 4G coverage.

As telecom services have become a fundamental part of daily life, expectations around the quality of service have risen. Businesses are reliant on tech, efficient communication and the cloud, so high-quality and reliable services are essential. 

Business owners located in rural areas of the UK and Wales face an even bigger challenge with their telecom services. Owning a business and working in the countryside often means slower broadband, poor mobile phone coverage, and high service costs in comparison to urban areas.

This is frustrating for business owners who rely on efficient communications to operate and grow their business, particularly if internet service providers have misled them with unrealistic speed claims.

So, is it possible to improve telecom services in rural areas?

Slow broadband and poor telephone lines

Unreliable connections can mean rural businesses have a disadvantage over those in urban areas.

In 2011, the Government set up the Broadband Delivery UK project, with the aim of bringing superfast broadband to 95% of the country by 2017. Superfast broadband is defined as an internet connection of 24Mbps or above. The missing 5% represents 1.25 million homes, to which the government aimed to provide broadband with a speed of at least 2Mbps.

Yet despite the government’s efforts, a 2017 report from the British Chamber of Commerce stated that, while 99% of businesses say reliable broadband is important, almost a quarter of the UK’s small businesses still don’t have it.

Can they be improved?

Rural businesses can look in to using dedicated phone lines to guarantee speeds. The pricing of these lines is distance dependent, making them more expensive than standard broadband lines. An SME in Wales was found to have the cheapest dedicated line available, which was still over £1,000 a month for a 10mb circuit. If affordable, and you are able to find a good deal, you will improve your businesses broadband with a dedicated line.

Alternatively, Satellite broadband is an excellent solution if your office does not yet have access to ADSL or VDSL broadband lines.

To operate, satellite broadband uses a satellite dish providing you with two-way access connecting you to broadband services. With speeds of up to 20Mbps, satellite broadband is a good option while you are waiting for universal broadband coverage to be available, or if you require a backup solution to overhead/underground cabling.

Generally, satellite connections are reliable, but in rare cases you may experience slower connections or outages. When this happens, you’ll need a reliable company that you can trust to fix the issues.

Switching to a VoIP telephone system

Businesses across the UK are opting to swap their traditional landlines to a business Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system. Rural businesses need to check whether their current internet service is going to be fast and stable enough to handle the new system.

VoIP relies on internet connection to make and receive calls. For crystal-clear calls, you are going to need sufficient bandwidth. To find this out, you should carry out a speed test, or get one of our experts to do it for you.

However, if you have sufficient mobile coverage, you can question whether you really need a phone line to run your business.

Poor mobile coverage

Mobile coverage is improving, but there are still areas which lack sufficient coverage to efficiently run a business and match faster areas of the UK.

Ofcom released an in-depth report on telecoms and wireless networks, providing findings on the availability of mobile calling, text, and data services in different parts of the country. The findings show that:

Outdoor premises voice coverage:

  • Wales – 93%
  • UK – 98%

Geographic voice coverage:

  • Wales – 62%
  • UK- 88%

Wales has the biggest urban-rural divide for outdoor geographic voice coverage. 9% of Wales is not covered by any mobile operator and has no mobile coverage at all.

Mobiles are often used by small business owners as a backup, so the lack of coverage in rural areas can be frustrating.

Can it be improved?

To see if you can improve your mobile coverage, it’s worth using a checker, such as Ofcom’s broadband and mobile checker app, to see what the weaker and stronger coverage is in your area. You can also plug a signal booster into your broadband to improve the signal. The booster works by pulling in a weak signal, boosting it, and then rebroadcasting it to the area you need.

DataKom:mobile has 99.5% coverage across the UK and Wales, and access to three major mobile networks; EE, O2, and Vodafone.

To conclude

The choices for rural businesses may seem limited, but there are various methods owners can try to improve their connectivity. The good news is that broadband speeds and mobile coverage are continually improving.

Is your business located in a rural area? Contact us today to find out how we could help improve your broadband and mobile coverage.