Faster Broadband Offers Relief for Rural Banks and Credit Unions
Though rural bank and credit union branches typically serve comparatively smaller communities than their metropolitan counterparts, remote and rural communities tend to rely on their local brick-and-mortar branches much more than city dwellers - making prompt recovery from an interruption that much more critical for those locations.
Physical branch recovery innovations like mobile recovery branches, quick-ship equipment, and rapid data recovery make it possible for a branch to quickly restore most critical operations with relative ease, but broadband limitations in rural areas continue to present challenges for branches dependent on satellite connectivity.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) establishes broadband minimum benchmark speeds for communications providers to ensure every community has adequate access to internet connectivity. Currently, the FCC standard is set at 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloading and 3 Mbps for uploading. Unfortunately, those speeds are far too slow to meet most small businesses' needs.
Most of the issues of bringing fast broadband to rural areas are a direct result of the Low density of housing in rural areas.
Pew Charitable Trusts
To address this issue, in July 2022 the FCC announced a proposal to increase the benchmark to 100 Mbps for download and 20 Mbps for upload. This significant increase is still less than a professional office with at least 20 employees online would require for typical use, meaning many businesses and financial institutions in rural communities may still struggle to access the broadband connectivity they need to maintain critical operations.
How connectivity loss and sub-par Mbps speeds threaten branch resilience:
- Inability to access and execute incident response plan, impeding both physical and remote branch recovery
- Compromises remote control and access capabilities
- Increases vulnerability to cyberattacks
- Inability to provide secured service to customers and members; loss of digital banking mechanisms, including ATMs
As the need for faster connectivity has increased, technology has answered the call. Smaller, more efficient satellites offer speeds up to 350 Mbps (and up to 40 Mbps latency), and are becoming increasingly accessible to businesses everywhere, including those in rural communities. Most impressive, though, is that some of these faster satellite solutions also offer a substantial increase in ease of setup and use.
While traditional satellites require a certified technician and a lengthy on-site installation process, modern broadband recovery solutions can be shipped directly to a branch and set up in minutes without any previous experience or expertise required. These new portable solutions not only support faster recovery from connectivity interruptions, but they are also more reliable and less vulnerable to both severe weather and line-of-sight challenges.
Though the FCC's proposed minimum benchmark speed has not been widely implemented yet, remote and rural communities can look forward to increased broadband speed availability in the near future. Roughly $42 billion in funding through the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help states build new broadband networks in previously underserved, low-population areas.
As businesses and financial institutions look forward to enhanced standard connectivity speeds and reliability, there are also faster, easier-to-use branch recovery options available now. Together, these advancements mean increased resilience for rural bank and credit union branches and sustainable access to critical community services for individuals living in rural and remote parts of the country.
About Agility Recovery
Through its business continuity management platform, called Agility Central, Agility works to reduce the impact of business interruptions on credit unions and the communities they serve. They help businesses be prepared before, during, and after an incident happens. After decades of helping businesses recover from real disasters and streamline emergency preparedness and incident response, they bring the collective experiences of thousands of hours in the field.