Why is broadband more expensive in rural areas?

Rural image

Question

I was trying to change broadband and found that it costs [REDACTED] - loads more in my area than the rest of the country. What the [REDACTED] - how’s that [REDACTED] fair?

Mick, via email (message edited for taste and decency standards)

Our expert Duncan says...

Woah Mick - that was some spicy language! I could be wrong but you seem more than a little peeved about the situation. And, sadly, I don't think this explanation's going to improve your mood.

Because you're right - while the vast majority pay around the same for broadband, some people do have to pay more than in other parts of the country. It's all to do with infrastructure, you see.  Read on, and I'll explain, and offer a few alternative ways to get online.

Why is my broadband more expensive?

The UK is split up into two separate broadband markets, called - rather unimaginatively - Market A and Market B.

Market A covers just under 10% of the UK population. Broadband will typically be more expensive, and many of the offers and deals that providers advertise won't be available to people in this category. Sounds like this is where you live Mick.

Market B covers the rest of the UK - just over 90%. Prices are cheaper than Market A, there's more choice available, and healthy competition drives an ongoing price war that keeps things (mostly) affordable

Rural village

Why is Market A more expensive?

Most broadband providers, including TalkTalk, Sky and Plusnet, share the same basic infrastructure - maintained by BT Openreach. Each pays to use that network, but installs their own technology in telephone exchanges. These are often referred to as local loop unbundled (LLU) providers - because technology companies love making things sound more complicated than necessary.

If a provider has their technology in an area, it means they can offer a better service and - importantly - better prices. Unfortunately, that's not the case in parts of the UK where low populations, challenging geography, or limited commercial potential make companies less willing to invest in infrastructure.

It's more expensive for providers to offer services in those areas, as they can't use their own tech, so those extra costs are passed onto the customers.

And, yes, if you're unfortunate enough to be in Market A, it can be [REDACTED] frustrating.

What can I do about it?

Ultimately, when it comes to home broadband you're limited by the options you have available. If your broadband costs more in that area, that's what you'll have to pay. You can at least search for the bestpossibledeal by using a comparison service like ours to see all your options.

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Alternatively, you could look for another way to get internet access. For example, mobile broadband could offer a cheaper way to get online in some cases.

It's not a perfect solution - speeds will fluctuate more than home broadband, and there aren't any unlimited mobile broadband deals available so you'll have to content with monthly usage limits. It will also be less suitable for things like video streaming and gaming. But if you compare your options carefully, you may be able to save a few pounds.

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Topics: Broadband

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