From culture to geography, there are a lot of factors that create your local internet situation. Some of it has to do with the technology available, while others may be as simple as the amount of land and customers that need to be covered. To understand how different something as simple as connectivity can be, here are a few details of Middle Eastern internet situations and cultures from the perspective of an American abroad.
The Distance Factor: American Coverage Costs
This is one reason why ISP competition still thrives in the US. Although many attempts at consolidation happened and continue to happen, the most successful ISPs are wary of trying to control the entire American landmass through a single infrastructure plan.
It’s expensive. It’s labor intensive. It’s a work in progress that may be eventually completed, but many individual states have fewer cabling and labor concerns than most individual Middle Eastern national land masses–with Saudi Arabia and Iran as notable exceptions.
This means that while you may be in area that has limited landline internet options, expensive landline costs, or satellite internet as the best option, the US customers can enjoy pitting ISPs against each other when shopping for internet in many areas as monopolies become a geographical difficulty due to demand.
Other strange situations develop in small, but not quite rural areas. In areas where a few circuits have been built to supply a specific demand, reaching maximum capacity can result in customers being turned down. Often, the only fix is if the ISP knows that more customers are in place and ready to start services if the company spends the money for infrastructure.
Even in town centers, satellite networks can be a helpful and often necessary way to get internet when other options fall short.
Connected Culture and Internet Sharing
Just as America has quite a few wide countrysides and uninhabited, but still claimed landscapes, many parts of the Middle East are just as distributed. If you’ve ever been to Saudi Arabia, or even smaller areas such as the United Arab Emirates, you’ll notice how quickly the pristine cities give way to beautiful sand dunes and charming villages.
These stretches of land pose significant challenges that American ISPs don’t have to deal with. National borders mean nationalized competition in the form of other companies with government subsidies, and some Middle Eastern nations hold treaties with smaller local governments that hold more authority than American state legislators.
This means that you may have to change service providers between different areas, and there may be fewer cooperative deals for Middle East-wide connectivity. Landline isn’t always an option, but the necessity to adapt have lead to powerful satellite connections via VSAT(Very Small Aperture Terminal) communications in countries like Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar.
Isolated Networking Cultures And Service Options
With wide lands comes the ability to move into the country, or withdraw from civilization with enough space to roam (relatively) free. Unfortunately, such freedom comes with a cost–for the ISPs more than you!
The major landline internet infrastructure companies need to plan their upgrades and increased coverage carefully, to the point of most rural internet-enthusiasts being unceremoniously turned down once the address is checked. It just costs too much, and multiple neighbors attached to the installed infrastructure are required to make it matter–pretty much defeating most reasons of moving out to the countryside in the first place!
For the same reason, there aren’t too many internet-enabled cafes or WiFi-enabled hotspots in many rural areas. Instead, your best bet is to embrace satellite. Thankfully, most Americans have been doing it already.
Mobile internet isn’t much different from satellite connectivity, and is simply the realization of what happens when large population demand better service. Satellite connectivity may have gotten a bad reputation in the past due to speed or consistency compared to landline internet, but all you need is a good good installation and calibration.
The main difference between rural areas in the Middle East and the Americas is the proximity to landline access. Customers in wide open areas are too far for landline access, but you can look forward to freedom in the open countryside by giving satellite your attention.
Author Bio: Jeremy is a tech and business writer from Simi Valley, CA. He’s worked for Adobe, Google, and himself. He lives for success stories, and hopes to be one someday.