In this day and age, when mobile phone connectivity and broadband services are improving and getting faster every year, there is still a large portion of the UK not able to access speeds and connectivity above dial up.
According to an Ofcom report in December 2016, nearly 1 in 4 rural homes – close to 1million – do not have access to decent broadband (10mbps). Not only does this affect home owners, but it has a big impact on businesses that for a variety of reasons are based in rural locations, including schools for the local communities.
The main issue in providing a suitable internet infrastructure to rural areas of the UK is the costs involved in building the network, with city centres and business hubs getting priority. There is a lot of debate as to who should be paying for the installation of the infrastructure, with many believing it should be the government and others believing it should be the internet providers themselves.
Last year BT’s subsidiary, Openreach, along with the Government, proposed a £600m deal to deliver an infrastructure of superfast broadband to as many rural properties as possible. Yet in October 2017, this deal hit difficulties. Fears were raised that the offer could be seen as unfair when organisations such as the NHS require the support more.
Rival network providers – such as TalkTalk or Sky – also felt the deal would exclude competitors from having a fair chance on accessing the rural market. It would be giving BT the power to dictate the technology and financial terms. They are therefore hoping for the government to impose new regulations to prevent this from happening. Contrary to this, Openreach are still hoping to reach a deal that will allow them to build the up-to-date infrastructure without waiting for customers to place orders, taking a proactive approach to the problem.
Not only is the cost of infrastructures a concern, but also the type of infrastructures to install. Not all rural areas are accessible by normal broadband or fibre optical cables. Currently the Government has opened suggestions out to other providers, beyond BT, for suggestions on getting broadband into the most rural of areas. Suggestions that have been put forward include tapping into the mobile phone network, and delivering internet over the 4G network – which was suggested by a Norfolk based network provider WiSpire. Others have suggested the use of homemade masts, using rural church towers for mobile masts and some villagers have even taken to the shovel and planted their own cables.
So is rural broadband still an issue? Very much so, and as the access improves in cities with Wi-Fi on our trains and buses, even airplanes, people are getting more impatient for reliable connections with high speeds wherever they go. Hopefully, the government and network providers will find a way to improve the level of service to rural areas soon, and the issue will no longer exist.
Are you struggling to get a decent broadband service? Give our team a call and we can discuss your options, as well as the speeds available in your area.