Slow rural internet speed is our competitive disadvantage

Excuse my ranting, but I am so frustrated with slow rural internet.

In fact I am getting to the point of pure outrage on most days in trying to function without reasonably fast internet as we try to run a media company from a rural farm office. The scary thing is that I am not even very remote relative to many people living in rural settings.

As people who live and work in rural areas across Canada and the United States, we are willing to live without a Starbucks on the corner (some of us have Keurigs), but it is difficult to have a substitute for slow rural internet.

If I run a speed test right now, it shows my download speed is 11.19Mbps and the upload rate is 4.33Mbps. And that’s faster than a lot of other rural connections. But if I check with someone in the city of Lethbridge, just a half hour away, their download speed is 177Mbps and they can upload at 16 Mbps. With city internet being 10 times faster (at no higher price), it’s hard to argue that rural people should stop complaining.

How slow is your internet? Run a speed test here, and please share results and approximate location in the comments below or on Facebook/Twitter.

With the advances in digital technologies available to farmers and ranchers, we need aggressive internet speeds to use these tools or they are useless. There are articles written everyday on precision agriculture and big data allow for more informed decision-making, but based on rural internet speeds for the most of us, a calculator and pencil would be less frustrating. If you do not have the fast internet speed to utilize these tools, what is the point of even trying to offer the service?

I’m currently reading Michael Lewis’ non-fiction book, Flash Boys, in which internet speed is clearly an advantage that people capitalize on in business to enable profit. Farmers and rural businesses are not being granted this opportunity and it is hurting our industry in the long term.

Rural communities have no chance to compete in the digital world without at least competitive internet speeds. Whether at the Indy 500 this weekend or in business, speed matters.

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23 thoughts on “Slow rural internet speed is our competitive disadvantage

  1. Totally unacceptable speeds for an outrageous price!!!
    Download – 3.59 mbps
    Upload – .56 mbps
    ISP believes this is acceptable 🙁 ……

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Any type of so called rural service, land line, Internet or energy supply is always charged out at a higher rate but the services are at half the speed or less. Top it all off most delivery to the larger centres is through the rural land base.

  3. There are some options for a business such as yourself that needs faster internet. You could use a combination of DSL if available and/or satellite plus cellular or wireless all run into a router that will combine and load balance your feeds. You could also setup your own wireless feed from Lethbridge if no other options. No it isn’t as cheap or as convenient as being in a city but it is an option. Might also qualify for some cost share funding.

  4. I use xplornet (the newer version). I took your speed test. download 9.18 upload 0.47.
    They say they are implementing a better service next year.

  5. download 1.93 mbps and 0.63 upload …. beat that!!
    We are 5 miles from Wadena, SK and SaskTel says that the LTE upgrade was done to help us! REALLY?
    Sasktel says if we need better internet we should go to Wadena and ‘borrow’ from a friend! So what is going to happen when we drive our 4WD tractors or combines into the residential areas and park to use internet to update the GPS??
    We pay for our internet and are capped at 10GB, the slower the internet, the more GB it takes to download (or so it seems).
    Our industry partners need to get on the service providers to help us out; the service providers don’t care about the ag industry or rural internet speeds; they say that we have LTE and that should be enough.
    end of rant … 🙂 Happy seeding everyone and GO PENGUINS!!

  6. 40 km south of Lloydminster and download is 4.3 mbps an upload is .54 mbps. It is not fast but better than is used to be.

  7. 10 miles NE of Neilburg Sk, 3.42 Mbps download 3.89 Mbps upload. This is off of cellular signal before 7 am.

  8. 10km North of Lacombe download 19.24 an upload is 4.27 seems workable but very volatile and a lot slower then the city. Agree with being a competitive disadvantage running a business on a farm!

  9. 5mbs download and .5 upload. At Wawanesa, MB. Very difficult to operate a business. More new technologies require internet connection. We also pay more than our city counterparts who say 24mbs is too slow.

  10. Get Telus rural cellular internet! I’m getting +100Mbps download and +40Mbps upload. I’m just outside Grassy Lake, Alberta. If you’ve got good LTE signal with Telus it’s a no brainer.

  11. Download at 6.07 and upload at 1.87. What is even more frustrating is that it sees that there are wide swings in these numbers based on nothing in particular. Just outside of New Sarepta

  12. I’m in a fairly well populated part of rural southern Ontario and most areas around here a lucky to get 1.5 Mbps down, I wish I could get the speeds some of you are complaining about, I’d be more than happy. EORN was a complete failure and Bell have practically downgraded their DSL system to 1.5 Mbps lines in favour of spending on the Fiber which they aren’t offering anywhere rural in this region.

  13. Come up with a technology that can support 50 clients at once and provide 100mbit speeds to all of them at the same time. Wait, you can’t? Oh, there is your reason.

  14. 12 km north of St. Albert, on Xplornet and it is so slow with download 1.09 MBS and upload 1.16 MBS. At certain times we get nothing with a message that the network is down (we’ve been told it’s when the neighbours are using internet). Crzy, it’s worse than the old party line!!!! I can even see the tower that we are supposed to be accessing. Providers need to change their business models.

    1. Both xplornet and TekSavvy over sell their towers. All they need to do is install another radio on he tower to service another 30-40 families. Its about quality not quantity. It will all come back to bite them in the ass some day.

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