Bringing Excessive-Pace Web To Rural Areas

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Forging Ahead

If you read a vacation rental for a rural location, you will sometimes see that "no internet access" is advertised as a plus. Such a marketing chutzpe might work for a weekend getaway, but for people looking for permanent homes, the lack of rural internet access in the form of fast, reliable broadband is a deal breaker.

Wireless services increasingly look like an answer. This could be good news for landowners and investors.

Barriers to rural internet access

The federal government's programs to expand Internet access in rural areas via wired broadband are proving to be ambitious and, in reality, slow. In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission launched the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund's $ 20.4 billion program to bring broadband to areas currently inaccessible. However, a controversial decision means that none of these funds will go to areas that have already received funding from a similar Department of Agriculture program or government programs, even if those funds prove to be insufficient. Building land in the areas that are subsidized is likely to become much more attractive.

Some had placed their hopes on Google's program, which combined fiber optic services and localized WiFi. However, this has proven to be a disappointment for rural internet access. Rather than reaching places with little infrastructure, Google has focused on targeting more densely populated areas where the problem is lack of competition rather than availability.

The difference in mobile broadband

Mobile broadband could really make a difference outside of the cities and suburbs. 5G cellular networks are the big topic of discussion for rural coverage.

The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission has taken steps to increase the likelihood of 5G reaching underserved areas. The first is to cut the red tape associated with upgrading a 4G tower to the new technology. The second is the abolition of the state fees imposed on network operators when setting up 5G networks in large cities. In theory, this money could instead go towards expanding the service to less populated areas.

The Federal Communications Commission has taken steps to increase the likelihood of 5G reaching underserved areas.

Satellite Internet: The Next Big Thing?

Satellite internet is the other great hope for rural internet access. Before that, it was a service that sounds great in theory but didn't live up to the hype. Not only was it prohibitively expensive, but upload speeds were cripplingly slow, with delays being a big problem too. Lag is not a measure of how fast data transfers occur, but how quickly devices can respond to a request and begin transferring. Too much delay and increasingly popular services like video conferencing become frustratingly ineffective.

It remains to be seen which of these mobile technologies will prove to be viable in the long term, but it is worth investigating the current and future availability at a location when assessing the land value. A rural environment with city-like communication could be the dream scenario for potential residents and make the location more important than ever.

Editor's Note: This article was taken from The Voice of Land blog published by the REALTORS® Land Institute.

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