Is high speed internet finally on the way to rural USA?

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If you live in a rural area, then you know that there aren’t too many options for connecting to the internet. Most of the time, it’s a satellite connection that is slow when you do finally get online or that features data caps that slow your connection when you go over the designated limit. For some people, not being on social media or not dealing with the issues of the internet can be relaxing. However, when you rely on the internet to work or take classes, then it can be frustrating when you have a slow internet connection or no connection at all, which is a lesson that has been learned because of the pandemic.

How Many Are Impacted?
There are over 14 million people who live in rural areas that don’t have a proper internet connection. Close to 17% of those who live in rural areas have slower connections than their neighbors, making it difficult to perform even the simplest of tasks online. New satellites and technology could change those numbers, giving rural areas a connection that they need in order to catch up with those who live in urban areas.

The Government Steps In
There are ways that the federal government and local governments want to connect rural areas to the internet with more satellite options and more cable options. There has been a lack of funding to connect rural areas as well as limits on the types of technology that are available. Although 5G services might help those who already have internet, it likely won’t make a difference for those who live in rural areas until the technology is in place.

Upgraded Systems
For years, rural customers have had to deal with DSL and satellite internet connections. As more people begin to move to these areas, the internet connections that are available can’t keep up with the demand, making the service slower. DSL tends to offer speeds of up to 100 Mbps. This speed isn’t always available and is often a burst of energy it seems when there are fewer people connected. A satellite connection tends to offer about 25 Mbps. If it’s rainy, cloudy, or snowy, then the speed is often much less and can be nonexistent. There are often caps associated with satellite internet connections as well. The FCC has increased the minimum requirement for broadband internet to 25 Mbps, but that speed is much slower than what customers with cable and fiber-optic connections have.

Alternatives
Starlink is an option that could be available for rural customers. Elon Musk has used SpaceX to launch satellites into space to try to provide better coverage to those who don’t have access to other types of internet without being connected to slower satellites. Once all of the equipment is in place, there should be thousands of satellites in orbit that connect to each other that could offer speeds of close to 300 Mbps. This could be comparable to the connections that companies like Spectrum, AT&T, Dish Network, and Xfinity offer. The connection wouldn’t be like the one offered by HughesNet and similar companies because the satellites are larger and feature better technology. They also move around instead of sitting in one area. There have been thousands of customers who have preordered for the service. Testing is now being completed with full connections possibly provided late in 2021 or in the early part of 2022.