Friday, 25 November 2016 06:47

Rural areas 'left behind on broadband'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural areas 'left behind on broadband'

THE government is doing too little to improve rural internet speeds, say community and business leaders.

The warning follows the government's Autumn Statement, which included £1 billion to invest in full-fibre broadband and trialling 5G networks.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the investment will support the private sector to roll out more full-fibre broadband by 2020-21.

Funding would also support trials of 5G mobile communications, Mr Hammond said in his 2016 Autumn Statement on Wednesday (23 November).

From April 2017, the government will also provide a new 100% business rates relief for new full-fibre infrastructure for a 5 year period.

The Rural Services Network said it feared that the bulk of the money would go to improving connections in larger towns and cities which already had faster broadband.

Network chief executive Graham Biggs said: "Many rural areas are still without broadband at a time when urban areas are receiving ever faster fibre-based connections."

The Country Land and Business Association said the government was overly focused on giving city based homes and businesses access to fibre to premises, hyperfast broadband.

CLA president Ross Murray said: "There is little comfort in this for rural people still struggling to get minimum connection speeds.

He added: "Connecting the 'final 5%' of rural communities and businesses must remain the priority until the job is done.

"Action to reduce rates bills for fibre optic broadband infrastructure creates an opportunity to increase the affordability of roll out in more rural areas.

"We will press for the industry to deliver on it."

The Countryside Alliance welcomed the investment but said it was important that the government must remember that rural connections were frequently much slower than those in cities.

Only 42% of premises in rural areas currently had access to the proposed Universal Service Obligation (USO) speed of 10Mbit/s, it said.

Alliance head of policy Sarah Lee said: "If our rural communities are going to be able to embrace all the opportunities that new technology provides then it is vital that we get the basics first.

"Central to this is ensuring that all those in rural communities have access to 3G and 4G networks."

People in this conversation

  • Guest (Janet Carr)

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    It's now absolutely fundamental to get broadband and mobile signal to rural populations. A large part of our village has no mobile signal at all. We have less than half the USO broadband speed, and no mobile signal in our house. We are so far behind our village phone box still has a phone in it and not a defibrillator, despite being 20 miles from nearest A&E and our ambulance service being in 'special measures'. Are we remote, up a dale or a mountain? No, we're in central Nottis 3 miles from A1!

  • We have the same problem in North Somerset; just off the A38 which carries the transatlantic fibre optic link,and just south of Bristol. The problem is not that you or we are remote. We just suffer from inadequate, antiquated telecoms infrastructure that monopoly supp**** Open Reach will not improve, even with massive Government subsidies, because they are able to exploit their monopoly power and the regulator Ofcom is toothless.

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