by Tim Jackson, a writer & sales expert with the Freedomsat team
The buzz phrase of the moment within the digital communications world is ’4G’ and in particular the 2013 UK rollout of the service is being hailed as the saviour of rural broadband. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, hailed a claim that 4G will be the greatest network of its type in the world. But is this really the case? With reports of expensive tariffs and less data compared to cost, is 4G really going to be the only option for those choosing to live in the countryside? Let’s take a look at the alternatives …
Rural fibre optic broadband
The British government’s target set at the tail end of 2012 to deploy an efficient rural broadband looks to be floundering.
UK Broadband minister, Ed Vaizey, confessed that 2015′s target is ‘challenging’. Vaizey went on to state that Broadband Delivery UK (BDK) funds keep resetting the clock and in the end the dragging of heels has become frustrating.
Due to these hold-ups, rural residents still have to look at alternative broadband services such as 4G and satellite internet in assistance with broadband hook-ups.
By the end of 2013, it’s been promised that a total of 98 per cent of the UK will be able to receive the fast broadband speeds of 4G technology.
Although 2 per cent sounds like a small number, that’s still a big number in terms of population.
According to the 2011 census the UK population was 63,181,775 – 2 per cent of that is still 1,263,635 people! 1
Satellite internet features 100 per cent coverage meaning there are no black spots.
Currently, the 4G network is being heavily favoured towards cities and towns too.
The big bucks in 4G come from populated and tourist-heavy areas where people are looking to get online away from their home computer.
You only need to look at the 4G spots rolled out thus far to see this. 4G is still being pushed towards city slickers and Big Smoke residents whilst rural dwellers are languishing in the depths of slow dial up mode.
Being able to access the internet while on the move and in any location is a necessity nowadays and even though the 4G rollout is indeed happening fast, it’s still way too slow for countryside residents.
Cost versus delivery
Although 4G is an efficient way of connecting to the internet, it still has a hefty price tag attached which remains out of some people’s budgets whereas satellite internet packages such as Bentley Walker’s Tooway have increased their efficiency and decreased costs making it a more attractive option.
Bentley Walker’s Tooway Large package of 20 MB per month over 24 months totals at £882, whereas the best 4G package on the market at present of 20 MB per month comes in at a massive £1,464. [March 2013 prices]
That’s over £26 cheaper per month, with a total saving of over £582 in two years.
Furthermore, for an extra £10 per month users can upgrade to the Tooway X Large package and get a 30 MB per month allowance, still saving a £396 over 2 years.
Still to come
The UK 4G network definitely shows signs of promise and no doubt in time will become more efficient and cost effective.
However, at present the pounds and pence just don’t add up for everyone.
Satellite internet still has its place amongst the rural community as in difficult connectivity areas it’s another and more affordable option, particularly where price is more important than access on the move.
Tim Jackson is a key member of the Freedomsat sales team at Bentley Walker which provides satellite internet to those living, working, and serving in the Middle East.
1. Granted rural areas are less densely populated so this number is most likely going to be less in terms of the 2 per cent, but it gives you an idea of potential scale.