A long time ago, many, many years ago, we lived in a world without internet—or at least the internet as we know it. 

For many living in rural areas, the age before fast, reliable internet connectivity is still fresh in recent memory. Out here, advancements in communication and technology are slow to arrive, costly to implement, and difficult to maintain.

However, steady innovations in technology and telecommunications continue to expand access to affordable high-speed internet. Now, more people than ever can learn, work, shop, and connect no matter where they are. 

Here is a brief history of the evolution of rural internet, for a look at how far connectivity has come. 

The Dark Ages of Dial-up. 

With only a few thousand Americans still using it (yes, there are still that many), there’s little love lost for dial-up. Dial-up used an existing telephone landline connected to a (loud and expensive) computer modem to transmit an internet signal. Connecting to the internet required an access number every time and it fully occupied the phone line, so forget multitasking. File sharing took hours, with slow download speeds of less than 56 Kbps. Streaming? Impossible. These were indeed dark days.

DSL and the Age of Dependable Digital Data. 

DSL, or a digital subscriber line, was the precursor to modern broadband and provided way better internet than dial-up. Kind of. You still needed an existing phone line and a modem to transmit internet signal, but now digital data was carried over unused frequency ranges, making it faster with more consistent service and connectivity. Improvements, however, were mostly realized by urban users closer to telecommunication hubs, because although DSL boasted decent speeds (768 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps on average), actual speeds and signal quality varied by location and provider, specifically how far you were from the ISP’s central distribution point. So, in general, the closer you were to the city, the better your DSL internet was. This meant most customers needed to live within a specified distance of a DSL line access multiplexer (DSLAM) operated by the phone company, and your phone had to be equipped for DSL, which not all phone lines are. DSL may have been “always on,” but it wasn’t always available to everybody.

The Classical Era of Cable. 

With cable internet, customers could sometimes have it all. Cable broadband internet used the same coaxial cable and infrastructure as cable TV to transmit signal for direct connections and faster speeds not possible with DSL. However, the shared circuit meant service and speeds could be unreliable, especially during peak usage times or even severe weather. And, it was still really best for heavily populated areas, leaving rural customers still drudging through dial-up and DSL.

Satellite—the Space Age.

 Satellite internet was a game-changer for rural connectivity and quickly became the new standard for rural internet. Not limited to cables or densely populated areas, satellite internet sends and receives internet signals from a satellite orbiting in space to an antenna (dish) on your home or in your yard. The signal is then transmitted directly to a router in your home or business at faster speeds than dial-up or DSL. But, there were drawbacks. A good reliable signal required a clear view of the southern sky and good weather, and the distance the signal has to travel—you know, to space and back—can result in higher lag times (latency). A space-sized coverage area and infrastructure also mean a lot of customers—primarily rural—experiencing low data allowances and higher prices. Sigh.

Postmodern Mobile Hotspots. 

With mobile hotspots, if you had a cellular phone and data plan, you could have wireless internet. Well, for most people. Mobile hotspots deliver internet signal from a mobile or cellular network provider through a hotspot device or cell phone—no phone lines, cables, or even electricity source required. What you do need, however, is reliable cell coverage, which many rural customers struggle with. Even for areas with great cell coverage, hotspot speeds fluctuate, depending on the location and number of people connected to the network. Hotspots often come with strict data caps to prevent network saturation as well as expensive overage and standard usage fees. 

Newfangled Fiber Optic. 

By transmitting data via light through fiber cables in the ground, fiber optic internet promises ultra-high speeds and instantaneous bandwidth adjustments for exceptional connectivity even during peak demand times. Just not for rural customers. While it doesn’t have the same infrastructure requirements as cable internet, fiber optic is infrastructure-heavy in its own way, with long, expensive deployments; extensive and costly installation and trenching requirements; and the need for more than one cable, since they can only transmit signal in one direction. All of this makes expanding fiber into low-concentration, low-populated areas nearly cost-prohibitive for providers. Fiber for some, but not for all.

Finally, Fixed Wireless–and the Advent of Better Broadband  Internet

If dial-up was the internet of the dark ages for rural customers, then fixed wireless is the internet of the future. By using a system of towers and receivers, fixed wireless transmits broadband internet signals from point to point over radio airwaves, essentially creating myriad individual wireless networks. Fixed wireless also uses a higher frequency than other technology, which means unlimited bandwidth and high data caps (if any).

Since signals are being sent directly from a distribution point to an individual receiver over a shorter distance, fixed wireless internet delivers faster speeds and greater bandwidth at a lower cost than satellite internet, and it’s less susceptible to weather events for nearly 100% reliability.

Fixed wireless internet only needs line-of-sight between the receiver and the access point, virtually eliminating the need for costly infrastructure and making it an ideal solution for areas of low population density. The simple setup consists of directing a receiver at a tower and plugging in a router, so it’s easy, fast, and inexpensive for even the most rural customers to enjoy great internet.

Connect to the Future of Rural Internet with Fixed Wireless from Airosurf

As one of Oklahoma’s leading providers of fixed wireless internet, Airosurf provides thousands of rural Oklahomans with the high-speed, reliable internet they deserve. In addition to low cost and energy requirements, Airosurf’s fixed wireless internet delivers uninterrupted and unlimited streaming, high data allowances, and fast download, upload, and connection speeds with no lag time.

Airosurf is here to help Oklahoma’s rural home and business owners take advantage of a new age in broadband internet. Find out today if our fixed wireless internet services are available in your area. If we aren’t already in your community, we want to be! You can email us at info@airosurf.biz, fill out our convenient online contact form, or call us at 405-413-7002. Don’t wait another day for the affordable high-speed internet you deserve!