The Challenge of High Speed Internet in Rural Areas


Getting high speed internet service to rural areas is difficult everywhere, and Ontario is no exception. There are issues of distance, weather, and cost that make it a challenge to provide reliable broadband service to remote areas. But there are also both public and private entities working to make it a reality. Read on for more information.

The Canadian standard

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications (CRTC) department officially declared access to the internet a national essential service in 2016. At the same time, the CRTC set the performance standards at 50Mbps for downloading and 10 Mbps for uploading.

?When the CRTC set these standards, it did acknowledge that their estimates showed it would take as long as 15 years to reach the final 18 percent of Canadians without access to high speed internet, many of whom live in the remote rural areas of Ontario.

The rural situation

For many in Ontario, the situation can be frustrating and difficult. Often, only slow speed internet is available, and even that comes with high prices. Internet access can be spotty and unreliable in addition to just being slow, and for many, the idea of using the internet to do something like stream music or videos is laughable.

Many people in rural areas are forced to do major downloads in the middle of the night when services is more reliable. Others develop mechanisms to deal with slow speeds like setting up emails to load and then going off to work at something else to fill the time.

The challenges

Why is the situation like this? There are complex issues behind the difficulty of bringing reliable, fast internet service to rural areas. Fortunately, the best rural internet service provider can already get high-speed access to many in rural Ontario: and the situation is only improving as time goes on. Here is what internet providers navigate to bring this valuable service:

Cost issues: It is well worth a company’s time and investment to bring high-speed internet to cities and towns. There are plenty of customers and lots of demand, so the infrastructure investment is virtually guaranteed to pay off. In rural areas, there are simply not enough people to generate enough demand to make that level of investment profitable.

Lack of competition: Where competition is robust, service tends to be excellent and costs go down. But when there are few players competing there is little to drive developments in efficiency and lower costs. There are now more players in the market, however, and the situation is poised to continue changing rapidly.

Distance: Distance is also a huge issue when it comes to providing internet for rural areas. The amount of fiber optic cable and other infrastructure that must be run to accommodate the huge distances stretch capacity to the maximum.

Meeting the challenges

Innovating solutions are being devised, and we’re beginning to overcome these challenges. Public and private concerns are working together, and here are some of the solutions already being put into action:

Combining infrastructure work: It is often too expensive to tear things up just to lay down high speed internet infrastructure alone. But when internet infrastructure work can be combined with other needed infrastructure upgrades, like road or sewer improvements, costs go down.

Thinking outside the box: Instead of laying in all new ground work, many companies are using existing gas or water pipes that are no longer in use as a way to lay new fiber optic cable. This provides enormous savings.

Improving LTE: Instead of concentrating all efforts on upgrading physical cables, some companies and government entities are working to improve LTE mobile networks. Building LTE cell towers for 4G networks is cheaper and faster in many cases than trying to run physical lines, and this is part of the answer for how to make faster internet a reality for every rural Canadian.

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