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What are the Best Rural Business Internet Options?

October 19th, 2020 [UPDATED]
Originally Published January 22nd, 2019

Pros and Cons of Business Rural Internet
 

The Pros and Cons of Different Rural Business Internet Options

BroadbandNow Research reports that more than 41 million Americans don’t have access to broadband Internet. Similarly, a 2018 study conducted by Microsoft found that 162.8 million people still did “not use the Internet at broadband speeds.” Why? Inflated costs, poor availability, slow deployment, terrestrial restraints, and misguided land and airwave regulations contribute to a lack of broadband infrastructure in rural communities across America. Resulting inequalities in finances, education, and social status, encountered by those without access to the Internet versus those who do, has been coined the U.S. Digital Divide.

According to GeoLinks’GeoLinks’ Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield, there are “Five Crucial Steps Needed To Close The U.S. Digital Divide.” The final and arguably most imperative item listed is America’s need to adopt a technology-agnostic, hybrid approach to broadband development. While technologies such as 5G and fiber were are prominent buzzwords, Fixed Wireless Internet, digital subscriber line (DSL), satellite, and cable all play an equally vital role in closing the divide.

When your company is deciding how to upgrade your connection (or get connected for the first time), it’s vital to compare business Internet providers and evaluate the services they offer. Learning about all the different rural business Internet options and their pros and cons will help you make a choice that’s right for your business. To that end, GeoLinks has put together this comparison guide of the different options available to rural businesses.

*Note that Dial-up Internet access is technically an option available in rural areas. Still, due to the requirements of always-on and reliable connections for business continuity in today’s marketplace, and with less than 0.3% of all Americans still using dial-up according to a study in 2018, dial-up isn’t discussed as a viable Internet option for rural businesses.

So, what technologies from business Internet Providers are available in rural America? Here are the pros and cons of various Rural Internet options:

Pros and Cons of Internet Options

Pros and Cons of Internet Options

Fixed Wireless Broadband Internet

Fixed wireless Internet providers serve high-speed broadband Internet access to a single location via radio waves. While capable of servicing suburban and urban communities, Fixed Wireless Internet is most widely known for reaching and connecting rural America quickly.

Pros of Fixed-Wireless Internet:

  • Quick to deploy – Fixed Wireless Internet networks are deployable in a fraction of the time of competing wired technologies. For example, GeoLinks ClearFiber™ fixed wireless Internet can be deployed in seven to 10 business days.
  • Cost-effective – by avoiding costly trenching, fixed wireless Internet networks are far less expensive to build and have a lower impact on the environment.
  • Widely available – because they use radio waves, fixed wireless Internet networks can reach areas “off the grid,” such as rural America.
  • Uptime – Fixed wireless Internet networks, like those engineered by GeoLinks, have multipoint redundancy built-in. Each circuit installed has at least one additional fixed wireless backhaul – often more – linking to a fiber connection, which provides always-on connectivity with 99.9999% uptime.
  • Unlimited Bandwidth – With ClearFiber™ fixed wireless Internet, your business gets unlimited bandwidth with no throttling or capping like satellite providers.

Cons of Fixed-Wireless Internet:

  • Line of Sight (LOS) – because circuits require direct LOS, trees or large buildings in the connection path can cause signal interference.
  • Bandwidth Cost – Bandwidth can be more expensive than DSL, Cable, and some Satellite providers.
  • dsl cable rural internet

    DSL Broadband 

    DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) broadband is a wireline technology that transmits data over traditional copper telephone lines installed to homes and businesses. Because it operates on pre-existing phone lines, DSL can be quickly installed when infrastructure is present.

    Pros of DSL Internet:

    • Accessible – because DSL runs through phone lines, it ‘sit’s more widely available nationwide. (According to broadbandnow.com, DSL has 90% coverage nationwide.)
    • It’s relatively inexpensive – the cost to install and maintain is less than many other broadband technologies, such as Fiber.

    Cons of DSL Internet:

    • Slow speeds – rural DSL speeds are generally between 128 Kbps – 3 Mbps.
    • Inconsistent network quality – because circuit quality relies heavily on the distance from an ISP’s ISP’s central hub, a significant problem for many businesses in rural areas, speeds and network reliability are inconsistent.

    Satellite Internet Vs. Fixed Wireless - GeoLinks

    Satellite Internet

    Satellite Internet beams data from your Internet provider to a satellite in space and then back to a dish at a user’s location. Historically, the technology’s primary use has been to connect businesses in rural areas that don’t have access to wired services.

    Pros of Satellite Internet:

    • Expansive availability – because it transmits to a satellite in space, it ‘sit’s available virtually anywhere on earth.
    • Decent speeds – delivering speeds up to 100 Mbps, Satellite is faster than DSL.

    Cons of Satellite Internet:

    • Latency issues – Satellite has inherent latency issues – this is especially problematic with video conferencing and VoIP applications.
    • Unreliable – circuit quality is susceptible to moisture (weather) and objects, such as trees and vegetation.
    • High cost – Satellite Internet is one of the most expensive broadband technologies on the market.

    cable broadband rural internet

    Cable Broadband

    Cable Broadband utilizes a modem to access the Internet through the same coaxial cables that deliver pictures and sound to a user’s television. Mainly used to service residential customers, cable networks are considered shared circuits.

    Pros of Cable Broadband Internet:

    • Easy and quick to install – because it uses existing infrastructure, it sometimes can be immediately available.
    • Faster – Capacity to be substantially faster than other types of broadband connections such as satellite and DSL.

    Cons of Cable Broadband:

    • Unreliable connection – Cable connections are shared with nearby users, causing performance issues, such as varying speeds, during peak usage times.
    • Rural limitations – due to the lack of infrastructure extending outside of urban communities, cable often is unavailable.

    cellular mobile broadband rural internet

    Cellular Mobile Broadband Internet

    Mobile broadband delivers Internet connectivity over a mobile network – the same infrastructure utilized by your smartphone. Mobile broadband is accessible via portable wireless hotspots and wireless modems from anywhere with a cellular connection.

    Pros of Mobile Broadband:

    • Easy access – assuming there is reception in the area, it has the potential to be immediately available.
    • Quick and easy install – the “plug and play feature” of this technology eliminates the need for physical cables, phone lines, or an electricity source.

    Cons of Mobile Broadband:

    • Inconsistent coverage – If you live in a remote area, you may not get cellular reception, preventing access altogether.
    • Unreliable performance – Average rural mobile speeds fall around 12 to 15 Mbps and fluctuate depending on location and the number of people connected to the network.
    • Capped data usage – To prevent network saturation, mobile broadband plans typically come with data caps. Overages can be expensive.

    flexible fiberoptic internet

    Fiber Broadband Internet

    Fiber broadband provides Internet access by converting electrical signals carrying data to light and sends the light through transparent glass fibers. It is one of, if not the most requested broadband technology on the market.

    Pros of Fiber Broadband:

    • Speed – Fiber can deliver multi-gig speeds making it one of the fastest broadband options on the market alongside fixed wireless.
    • Scalable and flexible bandwidth – once installed, bandwidth can be increased or decreased almost on-demand.

    Cons of Fiber Broadband:

    • Not available everywhere – Fiber is currently available in only 32% of the country.
    • Expensive and slow to deploy – fiber optic cable is exceptionally costly to deploy and requires trenching (often stalled by lengthy permitting processes.)

    Comparing the Pros and Cons of Rural Business Internet Options

    Rural Business Internet Comparison Chart
     

    While there are advantages and disadvantages to each Rural Business Internet option, these technologies can be strategically deployed to create a ubiquitous solution capable of delivering multi-gigabit bandwidth to communities across the country. This technology-agnostic, hybrid network approach is key to closing the digital divide.

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    Closing the Homework Gap – GeoLinks Connects Borrego Springs Students to Distance Learning Program

    In rural locations throughout the country, the Digital Divide has long been easier to discern than in more densely populated locales. For Borrego Springs Unified School District (BSUSD) in San Diego County, Calif., the reality of this scenario has been highlighted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In one pocket of its jurisdiction, a concentrated group of students remained completely isolated from the district’s new online learning environment, with most of them unable to log on in any capacity. After exhaustive efforts to provide means of connectivity for its students, district officials contacted GeoLinks. Moving quickly, our network team engineered and deployed a 50Mbps/25Mbps circuit to the area, free of charge to the district and its constituents.

    “I grew up in a rural area similar to the one we recently connected for the Borrego Springs Unified School District,” said Skyler Ditchfield, GeoLinks CoFounder and CEO. “At GeoLinks, we’re doing our part to make sure that every child has equitable access to the internet. Without it, we might be hindering the growth of the next generation of great American innovators.”

    GeoLinks has focused deployment efforts on connecting rural schools and libraries throughout the state of California and beyond for the last several years. A proud member of the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) and Corporate Partner of the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), Geolinks was the largest construction grant winner for Calif. K-12 schools and libraries four out of the last five years. Providing dedicated internet access throughout our network, we connect anchor institutions to enterprise networks at a fraction of the cost and timeframe required for fiber deployments.

    For more information on GeoLinks, including our efforts to close the Digital Divide, visit www.GeoLinks.com/ConnectAmerica.

    Local internet service provider wins $87.8 million in government funding

     Local internet service provider wins $87.8 million in government funding - GeoLinks - Ryan Hauf

    Photo taken by GeoLinks Co-Founder and CTO Ryan Hauf

     

    A local internet service provider is going regional, thanks to $87.8 million in funding from the federal government.

    GeoLinks, an 8-year-old Camarillo-based ISP that primarily serves businesses and rural areas, is among several companies that will receive funding from the Federal Communication Commission’s Connect America Fund Phase II Auction. The company plans on using the capital to bring high-speed internet to rural communities previously lacking connectivity.

    The first phase of the fund was held around five years ago and catered to larger, national ISPs.

    Money from the fund’s second phase, which totals around $1.5 billion, will be paid out in monthly installments over a 10-year period. GeoLinks will receive $731,000 monthly starting in May, according to CEO Skyler Ditchfield. The company is primarily focused on providing internet service to rural regions and businesses that may be overlooked by the nation’s larger ISPs.

    Ditchfield said money from the Connect America fund would allow GeoLinks to create a residential division but said the focus would still be on primarily rural areas.

    “It enables connectivity in rural parts of California,” Ditchfield said. “People that live in those locations can try new business ventures, educate themselves better and enable a lot of new internet services like video.”

    GeoLinks currently provides internet service to various parts of Ventura County and most other Southern California counties. Local areas serviced by the company include rural parts of Ojai and Thousand Oaks. The company also services entities such as schools, libraries and hospitals in rural areas across the state.

    The company plans on using the bulk of the money for new equipment and infrastructure, such as towers, wireless links and distribution. GeoLinks also plans on using around $5.5 million of the funding it will receive to service areas on the California-Nevada border. While GeoLinks will use some of the funding to begin servicing parts of Camarillo and Oxnard, it will also allow the company to make a larger regional push into the Central Valley and around northeastern parts of the state.

    The company is allowed up to six years to use the funds to build out its network, although Ditchfield said GeoLinks aims to complete work within four years. As payments will be doled out throughout the next decade, funds received after the network is built will be used for operating costs, such as rent and maintenance.

    Applications for the third phase of the fund will likely open in late 2019.

    Tyler Hersko covers business news for the Ventura County Star. Reach him at [email protected] or 805-437-0312.

    MORE: Camarillo-based GeoLinks joins universities on wildfire project

    California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks Awarded $87.8M to Expand Rural Internet in California and Nevada

    CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On Tuesday, August 28th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially released the results of its Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) auction, allocating $1.488 Billion to close the United States’ Digital Divide. Innovative award winning telecom, GeoLinks, headquartered in Camarillo, California, received a total of $87.8M to expand rural internet in California and Nevada, making it the largest auction winner in the state of California, and 5th largest winner in the nation overall. Ousting big telcos such as Verizon, Frontier, and AT&T, this is the first time the largest winner of CAF in California has been an independent operator and not an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC).

    “GeoLinks’ founding mission is to close the U.S. Digital Divide,” said GeoLinks Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “With this promise of capital from the FCC, GeoLinks will be able to further expand our network into rural areas of both California and Nevada, ultimately providing more than 11,000 rural locations with Internet at 100 megabits per second. We are excited that this new infrastructure will also reduce the cost of bringing high speed broadband access to anchor institutions such as Schools, Libraries, Hospitals, and Community Colleges. You can expect to see GeoLinks fully close the digital divide in California in these areas in the next 2-3 years with the help of our corporate partner the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC). From the beginning it was expected to see the incumbent providers take home big portions of the total fund. However, I am absolutely thrilled that our company, a mid-sized ISP with true rural beginnings, was able to secure the largest grant in CA and be in the top 5 nationally. Not only does this secure a bright future for the rural communities we will service, but it also allows our company to have a secure future and bring more jobs into our local economy.”

    As stated by Chairman Ajit Pai in the FCC’s formal release, the successful conclusion of this first-of-its kind auction is great news for the residents of these rural communities, who will finally be able to share in the 21st-century digital opportunities that broadband provides. By tapping the mechanisms of the marketplace, the CAF II auction served as the most appropriate and cost-effective way to allocate funding for broadband in these unserved communities, bringing the highest-quality broadband services to the most consumers at the lowest cost to the ratepayer.

    “As part of its efforts to promote ubiquitous broadband access for all Americans, the FCC created the CAF II auction to enable Internet service providers to build and maintain infrastructure in unserved areas throughout the US,” commented GeoLinks’ General Counsel and VP of Government Affairs and Education Melissa Slawson. “I am elated to see that a capable company of our size was granted substantial funding to further propel our mission connect rural California, Nevada, and beyond.”

    More information is available at https://www.fcc.gov/auction/903. A map of winning bids is available at https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps/caf2-auction903-results/

    For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact Lexie Olson at [email protected].

    GeoLinks

    Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is the Fastest Growing Telecom in California and a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally awarded for its innovative Internet and Digital Voice solutions. Ranked in both 2017 and 2018 as one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies in America on the Inc. 5000, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Digital Voice, SD-WAN, Cloud On-ramping, Layer 2 Transport, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

    GeoLinks’ accelerated success is largely due to its flagship product, ClearFiber™, which offers dedicated business-class Internet with unlimited bandwidth, true network redundancy, and guaranteed speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network is backed by a carrier-grade Service Level Agreement boasting 99.999% uptime and 24/7 in-house customer support. With an average installation period of 4 to 7 days, GeoLinks is proud to offer the most resilient and scalable fixed wireless network on the market.

    Recognized as a thought-leader in closing the digital divide, GeoLinks proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups including the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC), and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC) Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group.

    More about Connect America Fund Phase II Auction:

    A total of 103 providers ultimately won support in the CAF II auction to expand broadband across 45 states. The funding, which will be distributed over the next 10 years, will connect 53% of all rural homes and businesses with broadband download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second. 19% will have gigabit service available. And 711,389 locations—all but 0.25%—will have at least 25 Mbps service available.

    Contacts

    GeoLinks
    Lexie Olson, [email protected]