Government needs to ‘wake up’ to rural coverage issues

NFU survey reveals farmers are still suffering slow broadband

A survey of 800 NFU members has revealed as many as 85% are still struggling with mobile phone coverage and access to reliable internet.

Despite smartphone users having access to 4G coverage, a large proportion of farmers have unreliable mobile phone signals across the farm.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said that the Government must wake up and make the rollout of superfast broadband to all farms a priority, alongside complete mobile phone coverage.

“More than ever farmers need to use digital technologies to help farm more efficiently and fully utilise emerging digital technology such as robotics and GPS,” said Mr Smith. “Yet no signal for mobile phone voice or text and a severe lack of broadband coverage is creating a real barrier for those farm businesses and putting them at a disadvantage.

The survey revealed

• 85% of farmers have an unreliable outdoor mobile phone signal

• 82% of farmers have an unreliable indoor mobile phone signal

• 6% of farmers have access to superfast download speeds

“The ever-growing digital divide between urban and rural workplaces needs to be bridged. Government should recognise that, internationally, the UK is trailing behind other countries, putting our farmers at a competitive disadvantage. That’s why we are calling on Government to adopt a much more ambitious approach to finding ways to get fast broadband to those areas that need it most.

“The ever-growing digital divide between urban and rural workplaces needs to be bridged.

“This will mean ensuring there is necessary regulation in place and a competitive rural market. It is also essential to lay the foundations for an effective 5G network – universal coverage, with safe, fast and efficient systems that farmers can access to provide food and rural based services for domestic and international markets, while maintaining the countryside we all cherish, work in and visit.”

Farmland Magazine

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