Internet and Businesses

Could Rural America finally get high speed Internet access?

It may be liberating to disconnect from the tyranny of Twitter and other social media platforms. However, as many people discovered during the epidemic. Not having access to unlimited wireless internet for rural areas may make working, studying, and video conferencing difficult. If not impossible, in remote locations. 

Around 14.5 million people in the United States do not have access to high-speed internet. However, there is a significant urban-rural divide: According to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) study issued in January 2021. 17 percent of rural citizens and 21% of tribal lands inhabitants lacked even. The slowest definition of high-speed internet connectivity at the end of 2019. Compared to roughly 1% in metropolitan regions.

More than half of rural inhabitants, 58 percent, think access to high-speed internet is a problem. Compared to only a third of urban and suburban individuals. According to an AARP research released in June 2021, 23% of individuals polled believe it is a big issue. Which is more than twice the national average.

Thanks to modern technologies, all of that might alter very soon.

For decades, the federal and local governments have vowed to deliver broadband internet connection to rural and underserved areas. But nothing has happened. This is mostly due to the technology’s cost and restrictions. It is not cost effective to run kilometers of cables or optical fiber to a single rural consumer.

The same is true for cellular service towers, and the countrywide expansion of 5G wireless service will not help. Because 5G wireless transmissions can’t reach as far as 4G LTE transmissions, it necessitates a larger concentration of towers.


Satellites and telephone lines are both slower.

As a consequence, individuals around the country have been forced to depend on outmoded digital subscriber lines (DSL). Which is internet service supplied via wired telephone lines, or satellite providers such as HughesNet in Germantown. Maryland. Both are too slow to handle many of today’s information transmission techniques.

According to the provider comparison site Broadband Now. DSL service in urban areas may reach speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps). And that speed is more of a one-time phenomenon than something that happens on a daily basis. In our tests in a rural area, the best download speed a fixed DSL connection could get was 1.2 Mbps.

According to the AARP poll, rural families are twice as likely as urban. Or suburban households to use their local phone connection to provide high-speed internet through DSL.

Existing satellite internet companies claim speeds of up to 25 Mbps. But they seldom deliver, especially when it’s pouring, snowing, or windy. Netflix recommends at least 3 Mbps (a screen height of 480 pixels with a progressive scan. That creates the picture line by line in succession) for a single standard-quality video. 5 Mbps for high definition, and 25 Mbps for ultra-high definition or 4K.

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Upgraded the official broadband requirements to 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. This is about 40 times slower than AT&T Fiber, CenturyLink, Google Fiber, Verizon Fios, and Xfinity’s gigabit download internet speeds in urban regions.

Different types of satellites internet provide different options.

Enter a possible solution based on tiny low-earth-orbit satellites that is now under early testing. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has created the first such service, named Starlink.

It will ultimately deploy a constellation of hundreds of satellites to provide internet connectivity to rural regions. All over the globe at rates of 300 megabits per second or faster. These are not geosynchronous or geostationary satellites, like HughesNet or DirecTV. Which normally sit in one position around 22,000 miles above the globe. Starlink’s smaller satellites orbit at a height of 340 miles above the Earth, decreasing signal delay and latency significantly.

Starlink, located in Redmond, Washington, had more than 1,700 satellites in orbit by the end of May. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets can launch 60 satellites at once,. But thousands more satellites will be required to cover the whole globe. The Federal Communications Commission has given SpaceX permission to launch and operate up to 12,000 internet relay satellites.

During the beta test, the service was limited to southern Canada and northern America. After weeks of hands-on testing as part of Starlink’s beta program. The technology is already outperforming the competition. With download rates hundreds of times quicker than DSL and a peak download speed of 200 Mbps.

Hundreds of thousands of people are waiting for this opportunity.

Musk revealed in early May that SpaceX has received more than 500,000 preorders for its satellite internet service. Which is available in regions other than rural areas.

Email was downloaded in a fraction of a second for the first time in our remote Vermont location. And we could stream movies without seeing a “buffering” symbol every several minutes. We also tested a variety of data-intensive activities, such as upgrading a computer operating system and playing online games. Using Facetime, WebEx, and Zoom video conferencing. With a few caveats, it all worked out beautifully.

The speeds ranged from about 28 Mbps to 200 Mbps. Because low-earth-orbit satellites move, Starlink’s motorized dish and algorithms must continually follow them, which might explain some of the differences. Furthermore, the Starlink connection would often break for no apparent reason. Abruptly disrupting what had been a flawless Skype chat up until that point.

This is typical of an early beta test, as Starlink pointed out in a recent message to subscribers. The business expects dependability to increase as it launches additional satellites into orbit.

ViaSat, a satellite internet company located in Carlsbad, California, that began delivering service in 2009. Has raised concerns about the enormous number of broadband satellites. Particularly since SpaceX has asked the FCC for permission to launch 30,000 more. The possibility of space debris or damaged satellites coming to Earth is one of major concerns. The FCC has yet to rule on SpaceX’s request.

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