NFU survey highlights poor rural broadband coverage

NFU survey highlights poor rural broadband coverage

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A new survey conducted by the National Farmers Union (NFU) has revealed that many rural parts of the UK are still struggling with inadequate broadband connectivity, with only around one in eight respondents reporting access to superfast services.

Though the study focused on the farming industry, its findings highlight problems faced by homes and businesses throughout rural parts of the UK, which could have a serious impact on the economy of these regions.

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said: "It's vital that government ensures rural businesses have access to the same reliable broadband and mobile connectivity as urban businesses so they can remain productive, competitive and innovative."

The survey found that just 16 per cent of respondents reported having access to superfast broadband, while more than four out of ten (42 per cent) struggled with download speeds of 2Mbps or less.

Overall, almost three-quarters of those polled (73 per cent) still rely on copper wire infrastructure for their connectivity, while for eight per cent, fixed-line services are so inadequate they have been forced to turn to more expensive satellite broadband options.

Mr Roberts said that given the nature of these locations, more support from the government is needed if rural businesses are to close the gap to their urban counterparts.

"It can be much easier for companies and organisations located in towns and cities to relocate to access different technologies," he said. "But this simply isn't possible for a farm or rural business – connectivity needs to be brought to them."

Nine of out ten survey respondents (89 per cent) agreed that broadband is an essential tool for their business. However, 45 per cent stated that their current connectivity is not fast enough to meet these needs and 37 per cent said this poor performance is a barrier to their future use of digital technology.

Mr Roberts pointed out that last year, Secretary of State at Defra Michael Gove pledged investment of £200 million over the next two years to support the rollout of full fibre broadband in more remote locations.

"As an industry, we will hold the government to that promise of ensuring the very best levels of digital connectivity across rural Britain," he added.

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