A lot is being written in the press about rural connectivity challenges and the roll out of rural broadband. To give the government it’s due, money is being spent via direct investment and voucher schemes, which in turn drive hundreds of millions of private sector investment in (mostly) fibre infrastructure, but the problem is far from being solved.
For many of these non-BT fibre alternate ISP’s, the bet is that someone big will do a roll-up and they can realise a multiple on their investment. This is all very positive and the eventual result will be superfast coverage to pretty much everywhere in the UK. It is just a matter of “when” and that is the real problem that SMEs have to deal with.
The reality is that despite declarations of imminent bandwidth availability and a low latency Zoom paradise, it will be 3 to 5 years before many rural SME’s see anything like an acceptable level of business broadband.
What are acceptable Business Broadband Speeds?
We would define acceptable as the following:
- Speeds of 30 Mbps+
- Latency of 60-70 milliseconds (required for reasonable voice and video calls)
- A fixed IP address (required for VOIP and services like CCTV and alarms)
What Rural Broadband Alternatives Are Out There?
In the meantime, there is a gap in the market – if you cannot get a BT based FTTC service (typical speed 50 – 70 Mbps download, 15 – 20 Mbps upload) with a fixed ISP-provided IP address, you will be stuck with:
- ADSL with speeds of 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload;
- Satellite broadband, which has excellent coverage and up to 100 Mbps download speeds, but due to distance from the earth and multiple network hops, has latency that means voice and video conferencing work poorly. This effectively disqualifies it as a business broadband solution. What is yet to be seen is if Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite service will resolve these latency issues. If it can, the effect on the British Government’s strategy and the fibre altnets and their investors will be very interesting to observe.
- 4G Service. Though high download and upload speeds as well as reasonable latency can be achieved, these services are currently not designed to support the mission critical requirements of most SMEs. They do not come with a fixed IP, they have no SLA, and often suffer contention at the point where the cellular provider’s traffic enters the Internet.
Integra’s Alternative Rural Broadband Solution
To address the current rural connectivity challenges, Integra has come out with a new product – Integra Connect. By combining dual outdoor antennas, multiple 4G or 5G SIM cards, an industry-leading SDWAN router, and a resilient cloud architecture, Integra offers a enterprise grade alternative to fibre broadband service that provides:
- Speeds between 60 and 150 Mbps
- Multiple provider resiliency
- Low latency
- An SLA
- A fixed provider supplied IP address
This service can serve as a permanent or stopgap solution for rural or poorly served SMEs.
A Scalable SDWAN Solution
The added advantage of this service is its scalability:
- We can upgrade it to 5G when 5G is available with a simple SIM card swap;
- We can add it to or add in an alternative service, ADSL, FTTC, Satellite, or fibre leased line. Our SDWAN meshing allows all the bandwidth to be utilised in an additive fashion across the different technologies and each medium serves as backup. This makes Integra Connect a useful standalone solution, as a bandwidth top up solution, and as a mission critical backup solution.
Integra Connect is available throughout the UK. We offer a 12 month contract as standard, but can easily provide a quote for a shorter contract length if required.