Fast broadband failing to reach rural areas

“The huge demand for reliable, high-speed internet connections as millions moved to home, remote and flexible working and schooling during the pandemic has increased pressure on and scrutiny of the government’s plans.”

“Rural dwellers are being left behind in the internet revolution.”

.

The UK is the 28th most digitally-connected country – well behind the likes of South Korea, Gulf States and Scandinavia:

The UK’s score of just 5.64/10 was primarily driven by slow internet speeds across the board. A recent uptick in the deployment of full-fibre connections and 5G should help the country to move back up the rankings but will take some time to reflect in the results.

Research: These countries are the ‘most connected’ in the world

This poor showing has been apparent during the last two years of WFH:

Working from home? The UK’s broadband and wifi will be put to the test

There are some improvements happening – as reported from Topsham over the weekend:

East Devon town celebrates better broadband after two-year campaign

And yet it’s the big towns and cities which are being served well, as shown in this recent survey published by the Mail:

UK’s best and worst towns and cities for broadband are revealed | Daily Mail Online

But things are not happening fast enough – especially in rural areas, according to the Public Accounts Committee, as reported by the Guardian earlier today:

Boris Johnson’s promise to “level up” the nation by providing next-generation-speed broadband to most homes by 2025 is under threat as rural dwellers are left behind in the internet revolution, according to a report by parliament’s spending watchdog…

“What DCMS does know full well is it can’t rely on the private sector to get fast broadband to the hardest to reach, excluded and rural areas,” said Dame Meg Hillier, the chair of the PAC. “And despite its repeated promises to do exactly that, we are apparently little nearer to closing ‘the great digital divide’ developing across the UK nor addressing the social and economic inequality it brings with it.” …

The huge demand for reliable, high-speed internet connections as millions moved to home, remote and flexible working and schooling during the pandemic has increased pressure on and scrutiny of the government’s plans.

An initial promise by Johnson to deliver full-fibre broadband to every UK home by 2025 was subsequently expanded to include gigabit technology, which provides equally fast connections but the PAC said is “not as future proof”, in order to achieve the target. The promise to reach every home was then reduced to 85% of homes and premises, with the government making only £1.2bn of a £5bn fund created to connect rural homes available until one year before its 2025 deadline, which the PAC is not convinced will be achieved…

Boris Johnson’s faster broadband promise is being broken, say MPs | Telecommunications industry | The Guardian

And the tech industry is not impressed either:

MPs fear government won’t achieve gigabit broadband targets | TechRadar

UK parliamentary committee casts doubt on government’s gigabit connectivity targets

Johnson’s Superfast Broadband Plans Falling Short, Says Committee – Simply Switch

The Citizens Advice Bureau has also brought out a report which says pretty much the same:

Report highlights the countrysides digital exclusion problem – Rural Services Network

   
© Vision Group for Sidmouth 2005-2022