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A Guide to Broadband for Rural Vacation Rental Properties

Broadband services, especially fixed-line connectivity, can be limited in rural areas as there are fewer people to make tricky installations economically viable for internet service providers. In fact, the majority of 506,000 UK properties that lack good, fast fixed-line broadband are in rural locations. If your rental property can’t access a traditional fixed-line service, this guide explores alternative options for delivering fast connectivity to web-hungry guests.

By The TurnoverBnB Team

Last updated: August 22, 2022

Does Your Vacation Rental Property Need Fast Wi-Fi?

Adequate fast Wi-Fi broadband should be considered an essential feature for modern vacation rentals. Properties listed for rental online, by their very nature, are targeting a connected clientele who expect web access. Listings across services like Vrbo, Airbnb, and Booking.com all see impressive Wi-Fi provision to be a key influencer on booking decisions.

Put simply, reliable high-speed Wi-Fi broadband will make your vacation rental property more attractive and more profitable.

The best option for vacation rental Wi-Fi, where available, is “fixed-line” regular home broadband. It uses existing landline phone connections or special “cable” solutions like Virgin Media.

Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) is the entry-level, basic broadband with a maximum speed of 8 megabits per second (Mbps). ADSL+ enhances this up to 24 Mbps where applicable. Standard fibre-based broadband upgrades this again with average speeds of 30, 52, and 76 Mbps depending on availability.

As the most common option, these home broadband packages have numerous providers. There are many competitive deals that make it cheaper, with plans typically offering unlimited data.

Top Home Broadband Alternatives for Rural Vacation Rentals

Keep in mind that if you can get ADSL in your location, it may be too slow — especially if your vacation rental property is in a rural area. Speeds could be below 10 Mbps, which might be insufficient for the property size and likely amount of guests.

To help ensure that your Airbnb Wi-Fi broadband will be fast enough and have enough bandwidth for everyone staying at your vacation rental, consider the following alternatives to home broadband.

Mobile Broadband

If your location has signal coverage, why not go completely wireless instead?

Mobile broadband may be ideal if your rural vacation rental property can receive 4G, or preferably 5G, data networks. All the leading providers have signal checker tools on their websites you can use.

Requiring no phone or fibre lines whatsoever, home mobile broadband still uses a Wi-Fi router. Speeds are variable but can range from 12 to 50 Mbps on 4G and up to 100+ Mbps on 5G. Unlimited packages with no maximum data limits are available at a higher cost, with rolling or long-term contracts possible.

Summary of the Drawbacks

Aside from being 100% reliant on network coverage, mobile broadband has certain conditions worthy of consideration:

  • Data download limits are common on many entry-level plans.
  • 4G speeds may exceed ADSL connections, but 3G is quite slow.
  • Inconsistent performance, subject to network traffic and weather conditions.
  • Some plans include a Wi-Fi hub but you might need to buy a 4G/5G router.

Satellite Broadband

Largely considered a last resort option, satellite broadband can reach the remotest of locations. Data is received and relayed down to a dish installed at a property from outer space.

For vacation rentals that really provide the experience of living on the fringes of civilization, satellite broadband is probably the only choice. Speeds range from being equivalent to ADSL, all the way up to 300 Mbps. However, the exclusivity of such a service will come at a premium rate.

Summary of the Drawbacks

Installation is far more expensive than simply mailing out a router. These initial setup fees are usually up-front and there may be ongoing equipment rental. Other drawbacks include:

  • Satellite broadband tends to be less affordable with added installation costs.
  • Account plans generally have limits on data download allowances.
  • There are high latency or “lag” times that can slow responsiveness.

Full-Fibre Broadband

For some rural areas, the ultimate solution will undoubtedly be “full-fibre” broadband.

This fixed-line connection uses 100% fibre optical cabling with no copper wiring to deliver average speeds of 1,000 Mbps or more. Monthly costs are reasonable and comparable to regular home broadband services.

However, full fibre availability in rural areas is limited. Coverage relies on local projects and specialist providers like B4RN and Gigaclear. These particular internet service providers work with small communities to develop new networks using funding from the government’s Building Digital UK scheme.

Summary of the Drawbacks

Speeds are as quick as fixed-line fibre broadband can get at affordable prices, but national availability isn’t widespread yet. Additional drawbacks of this option include:

  • Network coverage is limited, so check availability.
  • This type of broadband may require community action to pitch for funding.
  • Very remote fibre line installation can be extremely expensive.

Rural Airbnb properties may qualify for funding for gigabit broadband installation. Check if your address is eligible for a UK Gigabit Voucher.

Connection Conclusions

To finish, it’s always a good idea to think generally when considering your broadband options:

  • What speed broadband does your Airbnb actually need? Think about the type of usage your guests will expect and how many users the connection will likely cater for.
  • Will it encourage more people to book? Is it worth it? Rentals with better broadband are undoubtedly more attractive, but investing too much may not justify the return.

Alternative broadband solutions can be very costly. For this reason, is advisable to weigh up what’s best for your business — both logistically and economically.

Written by Mark Billen, in collaboration with Broadband.co.uk.

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