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

Project Gigabit slow in making progress in rural areas

The £5 billion Government commitment to deliver lightning-fast, reliable broadband to every corner of the United Kingdom is starting to roll out to rural areas.

Project Gigabit aims to deploy gigabit-capable broadband to all parts of the UK, including the hard-to-reach areas.

Since the previous update in February, progress has included:

  • Six new contracts signed in Cambridgeshire, the New Forest, North Shropshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Hampshire. This combined investment of £425 million will bring gigabit-capable broadband to up to 284,000 premises.
  • Launching 11 new local and regional procurements, with a combined indicative value of £410 million, to cover up to 225,500 premises
  • First connections being made in North Dorset and Cumbria, ensuring homes and businesses are already benefiting from access to gigabit-capable, reliable broadband.

ThinkBroadband reports that 76% of UK premises are now able to access a gigabit-capable connection. On top of this, more than 50% of UK premises are now covered by a full-fibre network, up from just 22% in April 2021.

However, the progress in rural areas of the UK is slow with just 40% of rural premises now gigabit-capable, compared to 80% in urban areas.

Rural businesses are also lagging behind, with 27% of business premises coverage in rural areas compared with 53% in urban areas.

The Secretary of State for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Chloe Smith (Con, Norwich North) is welcoming the latest figures:

“I take great satisfaction from knowing that soon thousands of homes and businesses in these communities will be able to enjoy the very best gigabit broadband access, allowing people to work from home, communicate online with friends and family, shop, bank and stream the latest music and the biggest blockbuster films.”

Last month, the Government launched a £7 million fund as part of its Unleashing Rural Opportunity action plan.  This fund aims to test new ways to bring together satellite, wireless and fixed line internet connectivity, helping support farmers and tourism businesses to access lightning fast, reliable connectivity in remote areas for the first time.

The Government also announced the appointment of Simon Fell MP (Con, Barrow & Furness) as the UK’s first Rural Connectivity Champion. Mr Fell is supporting rural businesses to access and adopt the digital connectivity they need to encourage commercial investment in 5G and support economic growth.


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