The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

NFU survey results show rural areas still significantly behind national averages for broadband and mobile connectivity

This week the NFU published its latest survey results into broadband and mobile connectivity.  The report highlighted the lack of progress being made in both areas, with only 21% of the 814 respondents saying they have a reliable mobile signal in all locations on farm, and a third stating they have very limited or no signal.

The main findings of the survey are:

Broadband

  • 48% had the broadband speeds their businesses needed (10% better than last year)
  • 18% had the broadband speeds of less than 2 Mbps, down 12% from last year
  • 36% had superfast broadband speeds (+24Mbps), up 12% from last year, but other members still report prohibitive costs for installation.

Mobile

  • 50% had acceptable mobile signal (6% better than last year)
  • 21% had reliable mobile signals across whole farms – important for safety (4% more than last year)
  • 80% of members have access to 4G on their mobiles and 10% have access to 5G. 10% of members have no access to 4G or 5G (4% better than last year).

In his first speech as Prime Minster, Boris Johnson pledged to level up across the UK:

“I will tell you something else about my job.  It is to be Prime Minister of the whole United Kingdom and that means uniting our country, answering at last the plea of the forgotten people, and the left behind towns, by physically and literally renewing the ties that bind us together, so that with safer streets and better education and fantastic new road and rail infrastructure and full fibre broadband, we level up across Britain with higher wages, and a higher living wage, and higher productivity, we close the opportunity gap, giving millions of young people the chance to own their own homes, and giving business the confidence to invest across the UK, because it is time we unleashed the productive power not just of London and the South East, but of every corner of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

This was echoed in the Conversative Manifesto:

“Connecting the UK is not just about transport. We are Europe’s technology capital, producing start-ups and success stories at a dazzling pace. But not everyone can share the benefits. We intend to bring full fibre and gigabit capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025.”

However, that figure was downgraded to 85% of the UK in a recent White Paper, with the remaining 15% promised by 2030, something the NFU Vice President, David Exwood, says is too slow:

“Our results show that we need a really concentrated effort from the government and telecommunications industry to reach the most remote areas still without coverage if we want to achieve the Shared Rural Network’s aim to deliver 4G connectivity across the UK by 2025. While the introduction of 5G to some rural areas is encouraging, as it supports the introduction of new technologies and more productive business practices on farm, this year’s survey shows that connectivity is only increasing slowly, and the farming industry is still lagging significantly behind the rest of the country.” 

RSN Chief Executive, Kerry Booth, is welcoming Mr Exwood’s comments and the report’s conclusions:

“These results come as no surprise.  Last week we had the findings from Mobile UK which showed the growing divide between urban and rural areas, something previously highlighted in the RSN’s Rural Lens Review on the Government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy.

“All the industry experts are saying the same thing – we need a joined up approach to rural connectivity, and we need it to happen quickly.”

Read the full NFU report findings here

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.