In the 21st century, Internet access is taken for granted across most of the developed world; however, it is estimated that 40 percent of the world’s inhabitants cannot get online. Even in countries such as England and the United States, almost 20 percent of the population do not have reasonable Internet access. This is mostly an issue in remote, rural areas. Here are some internet options for businesses in some of these remote locations.
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The Last Mile Problem
Although the wireless broadband industry has grown exponentially over the last few years, residential and business Internet access is still predominantly ruled by wireline networks such as those connected by ISDN30 or fiber optic networks. Internet service providers (ISPs) would like to reach rural customers, but the cost of extending their infrastructure might not be justified by the small number of residents living in remote areas. This is known as “the last mile problem.”
The advent of GMS telecommunications and 3G technologies has greatly expanded Internet access in developing countries. As a result, many telephone companies now act as ISPs. Even with these advanced technologies, there are still issues related to reaching isolated areas. ISPs must still invest on extending their backhaul components and elevating their cell phone towers, which makes it a costly endeavor. One solution that has emerged in recent years is WiMAX, which still presents line-of-sight challenges in mountainous regions with lots of forest and vegetation.
Google Project Loon
Internet search engine giant Google has been working on an interesting solution that deploys high-altitude balloons equipped with devices such as routers and repeaters to deliver wireless Internet to rural communities. This project, however, is still in infancy and it is subject to atmospheric conditions and network loads, which can slow down the browsing experience when too many people are logged in at the same time.
Satellite Internet Access
The problem with the solutions above is that they still rely on some sort of terrestrial network. This means that the some of the most remote areas cannot be reached. Satellite Internet access has been a reasonable and practical solution for quite some time, and it has been proven to be the most effective for reaching customers who live and work off the beaten track. Satellite communication is more practical for industries like gas and oil, and it is the preferred solution for deployed military units, cargo ships and even the International Space Station.
The Future of Broadband Coverage
Once ISPs have solved their last mile problems around the world, they will have to deal with the growing demand for more bandwidth. Internet users are downloading and uploading more videos and other multimedia content that calls for higher broadband speeds. To this effect, ISPs are already looking at other options such as delivering high speed access via existing electrical lines. ‘
By Anica Oaks