Why is it so difficult to get internet in rural areas?
In Africa's capitals and major cities, networks for accessing the internet are particularly well developed. But there are inequalities between these urban areas and rural areas, which make up most of the continent. Millions of households in small towns, villages and remote areas have difficulty connecting to the web, even though its use has become almost unavoidable.
Some African households may not have a web connection at all, or may have to make do with slow and random access. Yet, having a stable and fast internet connection is essential in many areas:
- To pay via mobile phone;
- To access social networks;
- To trade and buy things online;
- To find information and consult the news;
- Watching videos, movies and TV series;
- To work remotely;
- and so on.
Fortunately, there are solutions to address this challenge, and to remove white or low-speed areas from the map. Here is the point.
The 4 solutions for accessing the Internet in rural areas
When you want to benefit from an internet connection, there are several options, each with their own shortcomings and advantages. Here is an overview of what is available in different African countries:
- 4G mobile phone network;
- ADSL at home;
- Fibre optics;
- Internet via satellite.
Accessing the internet from your smartphone has become an extremely common practice. To do this, you need to be near a 4G antenna and have a telephone package. This is an ideal solution for connecting to the web away from home, but it depends on the presence of a network antenna, which is not necessarily the case in rural areas.
The ADSL home network allows you to connect to the Internet from home, from a computer or a smartphone via the WiFI network. This solution is still expensive and is based on a network that is mainly concentrated in large and medium-sized towns.
Since 2010, fibre optics has developed strongly. As an alternative to ADSL, this solution has the advantage of being faster, with speeds of up to 1 Gbps. However, fibre optics has a major drawback: it is almost exclusively reserved for urban areas, and therefore does not provide a solution for more than 60% of the African population living in rural areas. Indeed, the installation of fibre is expensive, especially in very isolated or difficult to access areas (e.g. in mountainous regions).
Satellite internet, THE solution for rural areas
Whether it is ADSL, optical fibre or 4G, all these solutions rely on the presence of a nearby network infrastructure. While the 40% of Africans who live in large cities are fortunate to be well served, the situation is different for the remaining 60%. Although internet and wifi connectivity are as useful for rural areas as for cities, inequalities between these areas and between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa persist, despite telecoms' efforts to democratise web access across the continent. One solution remains to be detailed: satellite internet.
Internet by satellite is an alternative that makes it possible to respond to the problem of access to the web on the African continent. There is no need to be close to network infrastructure: this technology is based on the permanent presence of satellites in orbit, and thus allows all households to access the Internet, regardless of where they live. People living in the countryside, villages and small towns are no longer deprived of the possibility of connecting to the Internet from their homes, quickly and easily, thanks to the Konnect offer developed by Eutelsat.