RSN Members explore Rural Digital Connectivity

Almost 70 members of the Rural Services Network last week came together to discuss the issues surrounding Rural Digital Connectivity at one of the seminars organised and hosted by the RSN

The seminar forms part of the RSN Seminar programme where 9 seminars will take place throughout the year all focused on different elements of the Revitalising Rural Campaign. These seminars are part of the service delivered solely to the membership of the RSN.

The RSN recognises that digital connectivity is a key enabler of business innovation and an important part of the economic recovery in rural areas, along with providing access for rural residents to key services such as healthcare, education, banking and can also address issues of rural loneliness and isolation. To find out more about the RSN’s asks of Government for Rural Digital Connectivity, view our asks at this link.

Three different presentations were made at the seminar including:

  • Huw Saunders, the Director of Network Infrastructure and Resilience from OFCOM sharing information about Changes to the UK Telephone Network
  • Professor Katy Mason and Research Associate Sharon Wagg from Lancaster University Management School, sharing details of a project they are involved in, Mobile Access North Yorkshire (MANY)
  • Amy Cobbett, Business and Rural Affairs Advisor, National Farmers Union sharing their 2020 NFU Digital Survey Results

Key points noted were as follows:

  • The switch off of the PTSN, the country’s traditional telephone network, to newer digital technology known as VOIP, which carries calls over a broadband connection. The future of fixed telephone services - Ofcom
  • The findings from MANY and Lancaster University Management Schools independent research study will be fed into DCMS’s future rural connectivity policy, which aims to level up rural communities ensuring they benefit from new innovative technology like urban areas.
  • More than four in 10 farmers still don't have adequate fast and reliable broadband in order to run a modern-day farming business, according to the NFU Digital Survey results and they highlight the ongoing division between rural and urban areas, with the potential for essential food production business growth hampered by persistent poor connectivity and mobile coverage in rural areas. Poor rural connectivity leaving farmers behind (

Kerry Booth, Assistant Chief Executive of Rural Services Network said:

"Ensuring that rural areas are not left behind in the race forward with digital connectivity is one of the key issues that we campaign for.  We are disappointed that the Government has reduced funding from £5bn to £1.2bn and that targets for 2025 are now to reach 85% of premises, leaving poorly serviced rural areas behind yet again.  We welcome projects which aim to support rural communities and enable connectivity in hard to reach areas".

The Government has issued a Call for Evidence which closes on 11 June 2021 on Improving Broadband for Very Hard to Reach premises. Improving broadband for Very Hard to Reach premises - GOV.UK (

A representative of DCMS has agreed to attend a Meeting with RSN members to discuss the call for evidence.  Further details will be sent shortly to those invited to attend the meeting.


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