Connecting the home office can be tricky in rural areas

Satellite can help bridge the gap as more people work remotely

Woman working on laptop at cabin outside with her dog

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-2020, most of the world was going to work and school from home. Today, vaccinations and a greater understanding of the way the virus spreads has lifted the stay-at-home orders, and many are headed back to school, soccer games and restaurants.

But COVID-19 has changed the face of the workplace, most likely for good.

Many who work in offices and other non-patron-facing occupations are either choosing to stay at home, or their employers are choosing for them. Twitter has announced that all of its employees can work from home permanently. Facebook has followed suit, allowing employees to work from anywhere they want to live, even adjusting an employee’s salary structure based on the cost-of-living index where the employee resides. Deutsche Bank says employees will work from home at least three days a week, starting with their New York and London locations.

In a recent consumer connectivity survey conducted by Viasat, 66% of rural-based respondents indicated they are planning to work from home post-pandemic, if given the opportunity by their employer.

The number of people moving since the pandemic began in spring 2020 has skyrocketed, with the number of relocations in 2020 increasing by 600,000, more than 4%, to almost 16 million moves. More than a third of those who moved in 2020 did so because of the pandemic. New York City saw the largest urban flight, where 68% more people left the city than moved to it. Oakland and San Francisco saw similar numbers. Those people mostly moved to small suburban towns or rural areas. The suburban areas of Georgetown, Texas and Venice, Florida all saw a 300% increase in people moving in versus moving out. People are moving further from big cities and say their commute time is not such an issue with remote working.

Connectivity question

But with those moves can come challenges with finding good internet. It’s something we know a lot about here at Viasat, and our satellite connectivity has proven to be an ideal solution during this shift in work locations.

In a recent survey of home-based workers, almost half reported that internet connectivity was a problem. Forty percent reported problems with video conferencing platforms, like Zoom. They reported frozen video, glitching, and having to turn off their video because of slow internet.

The fact is, many providers find it cost-prohibitive to put infrastructure in areas that will serve a sparse population. In an area where houses are separated by hundreds of yards or even miles, it’s unlikely those homes are going to get anything like cable or fiber, and even cell towers may be few and far between in such places.

Satellite solution

The delivery of high-speed satellite internet can often be the answer to these problems. Viasat can provide internet to 99% of the U.S., and with little local infrastructure required, service can be delivered quickly to many rural residences that have little to no coverage from traditional cable or fiber internet providers. For years, Viasat has filled those gaps with high-speed broadband for home and business, providing a lifeline to many work-from-home customers who need strong service for all of their online needs. That’s particularly important with teleconferencing tools such as Zoom or WebEx, which so many workers have come to rely upon.

We hear regularly from customers who tell us satellite internet from Viasat has enabled them to run their business from almost anywhere, including one Alabama couple who found it to be a critical link for their semi-retirement income.

And, we’re continually improving service with the launch of each new satellite. Viasat’s upcoming satellite constellation, ViaSat-3, is designed to add to that, with plans to cover most of the globe with an enormous amount of capacity to enable even greater speeds in more places.

“When this system goes into consumer service,” said Steven Mesnick, chief marketing officer of Viasat’s Global Fixed Broadband business, “we expect to be able to deliver significantly faster speeds, more data, and enhanced streaming capabilities from space.”

Patti Rutkin is a fierce advocate of the customer experience. As the marketing lead for Viasat’s US residential business, she is responsible for raising awareness about Viasat’s home internet service within the communities it serves.