- Background color
- Background image
- Border Color
- Font Type
- Font Size
Rural businesses have challenges that are not common in their urban counterparts. Foremost among them is a slow internet connection. But communities won’t thrive without their rural business, and there is never a lack of entrepreneurs who aren’t heading for New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.
Businesses in the countryside have advantages not found in big cities. Startup capital is less because lease, labor and materials are cheaper. Depending on your niche, competition isn’t as fierce which means better chances for success. In rural areas too, customers tend to be loyal if the quality of service and product are maintained.
Some businesses that are exclusively online, such as web development and design companies, will encounter serious difficulties if they are physically based in rural areas and should upgrade to better services but a lot of local ISPs cannot offer this option.
Here are real-life examples of rural businesses suffering from slow connectivity:
A freelance graphic artist for video in Newfoundland, Canada says his work is operated entirely online, from finding new clients, communicating with them, discussing the work and showing samples, and creating the whole process, from start of production to delivery of the finished product. The file sizes can be extremely big, and uploading is so slow, from 0.5-0.6 megabytes per second, that he sometimes has to travel to get faster internet. He has turned down clients with tight deadlines.
An employee of a co-op in rural Illinois, whose job is to track corn and soy prices for trade, says slow internet cannot catch up with fast trading, so a few seconds’ change in price can mean a loss of hundreds of dollars for a farmer.
Retail stores in rural areas that also sell their products online need fast and stable internet connection to communicate with their clients. Prospective customers always appreciate a quick response from businesses, and poor connectivity can result in lost sales and non-returning customers.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission has maintained the current official definition for standard broadband, which is 25Mbps for download speed and 3Mbps for upload. But this is not the case in rural America, where 39 percent of the people do not have access to these speeds.
The same is true for England, where broadband speed is three time slower in rural counties than in urban cities. In rural north Yorkshire, average download speed is 30.2mbit/s while in urban York nearby, it’s 102mbit/s. The slowest reported broadband speed in Britain is at west Devon, at 21.8mbit/s.
For rural businesses, there are ways to speed up your internet broadband speed to facilitate your use of it for communicating with clients, or performing the countless tasks you do online:
Use a VPN.
Although a VPN will not increase internet speed, it does protect you from bandwidth throttling, which is a common practice of ISPs that results in slower internet speed. Your online traffic goes undetected and your ISP can’t deliberately throttle you for its own vested interest.
ISPs are also known to route traffic, sending them on circuitous routes, thus slowing internet speed. A VPN conceals your traffic, thereby protecting it from being re-routed to longer distances. You can give this option a try with this list of free VPNs and see if it works.
Check your router for upgrade and location.
An old router may not be up to par with the technology you are using. As speed increases and wi-fi standards get better, your router must be able to keep up with it., and you may need to get a newer and upgraded model. If you place your router behind appliances or in a closet, its performance is negatively affected, too.
But until telecom companies and the government come together and invest in high speed internet infrastructure, the technological void will persist. Rural businesses will have to bear with slow internet connectivity and use their creativity to go around this hurdle.