david white // stuff
Heavy rainfall can affect not only roads, houses and schools, but your internet as well.
Not only does heavy rain affect roads, houses, schools, and seemingly every aspect of normal life (especially if you live in the north of the country right now), it can also affect your internet. As seen from recent weather events, the worst-affected areas have also lost much-needed connectivity.
The Internet is not invisible magic. It requires signals to be able to be sent from one point to another using physical infrastructure, which can be negatively affected by heavy rainfall.
But which type of internet is most or least affected by severe weather? Here’s a quick summary.
Satellite broadband uses radio waves to transmit over long distances, from your home to space and back again. If there are storm clouds, rain or snow between these points, they can deflect or scatter the waves, weakening them or cutting them off entirely.
Satellite TV customers may recognize this effect from the old rain-faded messages they see on TV during severe weather.
Fixed wireless broadband provides Internet access to a single location over a mobile phone network. This means that, in order to work, there must be a stable connection between your home and local cell towers.
Just as radio waves get jammed on their way to satellites, they also get jammed on their way to cell phone towers. However, the impact was less severe. According to a research paper by the TKM Faculty of Engineering, for end users to experience a reasonable decrease in signal quality, rain must be particularly intense for a particularly short period of time. Rain scattered throughout the day has less impact.
ADSL and VDSL
ADSL and VDSL are both fixed-line broadband services, which means they use physical cables to connect your home to the internet. The cable in this example is made of copper.
Because these connections don’t use radio waves, they’re naturally more resilient to bad weather than satellite or cell phone service. Rain cannot dispel their signals.
That said, rain can cause other issues that can affect connectivity. For one thing, copper cables transmit data via electrical signals, so they are prone to short circuits—moisture and electric current don’t mix well, after all. They can also be damaged or cut. However, they usually still work even during a power outage at your property.
Fiber broadband also provides internet using physical cables, so it is immune to the elements compared to radio wave signals. That said, optical fiber isn’t made of copper — it’s made of many tiny strands of glass.
These strands transmit data in the form of pulses of light, and they are very good at sending this light over great distances. Fiber optic therefore does not require a power supply like copper does, so there is no damage to electrical equipment, and there is much less risk of problems due to moisture.
However, fiber does require power in your home. If you have fiber, your modem will connect to a fiber box or ONT. This requires power. During a storm without power, you will not be able to access the Internet.
Want to learn more about the broadband connections available to you? Click here to see your options.