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How to speed up your rural broadband


With over 70% of UK holidaymakers now using the web to book domestic holidays*, park owners are increasingly reliant on robust broadband connections to run their business.

Customers want them too as demand for wifi grows: 51% of UK adults now own a smartphone, and 24% of households a tablet computer.**

Broadband speeds can vary dramatically throughout the UK, so we've put together some tips on how to improve the speed and reliability of your connection.

First, check the speed being reported on the web interface of your router.

If your connection is really slow (0 - 2Mb)

1. If your upstream is only 288Kb (0.288Mb) reported by your broadband router in its web interface, then you are on a very old package. Contact your internet service provider to upgrade and possibly get better speeds.

2. If the router's web interface is reporting 0.576Mb, 1.152Mb or 2.272Mb, again consider changing package to improve speeds.

3. If you have an alarm fitted or a Sky box or external ringer (bell so you can hear phone across site when out of office), ensure that there's you've added a microfilter to each socket so that it doesn't interfere with your broadband.

It's not uncommon to see people on old slow packages jump from 0.5Mb to 2Mb or 3Mb, or with 10 minutes of testing, realise that they can go faster by adding a device called the i-Plate. How to fit an i-Plate.

You can also get another reading for your broadband speed using this test.

More tips on speeding up your existing connection.

Planned improvements to broadband

You can check whether your local exchange is already part of BT's 'superfast' broadband rollout plan at the BT Openreach website. BT is aiming to provide superfast fibre broadband of 40-80Mb to two thirds of the UK by the end of spring 2014.

By 2015, the government has a target for:

  • 90% of UK premises within each council district to have at least 24Mb broadband; and
  • 100% of UK premises within each council district to have at least 2Mb broadband
Local government is responsible for bridging the gap between BT's 'commercial' rollout and the government's targets, through 'local broadband projects'. In England, local councils at county and unitary level are responsible for these, while in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the devolved administrations are taking the lead. It is, however, doubtful whether the government's 2015 target will be met due to delays in procurement processes.

Find out more about your local broadband project

Nearly all areas have local broadband projects, though they've only recently begun so it may be some time before exchanges are activated. See the links below for timings in your location:

Once your exchange has been upgraded, you will still need to sign up for superfast broadband through a service provider. You will be able to see which service providers operate in your area at the links above.

Grant schemes for hard-to-reach areas

In England, for the 10% of hard-to-reach premises which will only get 2Mb broadband by 2015, £20m of funding is available from the government's Rural Community Broadband Fund.

If you're based in Wales, investigate the Welsh Assembly's Broadband Support Scheme, which provides grants of up to £1,000 for premises in broadband slowspots.

Other ideas for improvement and alternatives

  • As the demands on wifi increase, it may be worthwhile having two lines: one that is used for the site wifi, and another just for the office.
  • Trying different routers is a good idea: routers stocked by the big chain stores are often not up to the job.
  • If your broadband speed is still low, you might want to investigate satellite broadband which may provide a more reliable system.
  • Although poor in many rural areas, mobile broadband is improving and it may be worth checking coverage levels on your network operator's website. By the end of 2017, it is a requirement for the new faster 4G services to be available to at least 98% of the UK population, and at least 95% of the population of each of the UK nations.
  • leased line may be an option if your budget stretches to it.

With thanks to thinkbroadband.com

* The GB Tourist 2011, VisitEngland, 2011
** Communications Market Report, Ofcom, August 2013 

 (April 2013, updated October 2013)