The Countryside Alliance has today (16 December) welcomed the publication of Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report 2016, which provides the latest picture of superfast broadband and mobile coverage across the UK.
The Report shows that 1.4 million premises remain unable to access broadband speeds over 10 Mbit/s, the speeds required to meet a typical household’s digital needs, which is also the proposed speed of the Government’s Universal Service Obligation. This is down from around 2.4 million in 2015 although 960,000 premises in rural areas are still unable to access download speeds above 10Mbit/s. Superfast broadband, measured at 30 Mbit/s, is now available to 89% of UK homes although only 59% of homes in rural areas are able to access superfast speeds.
The Report finds there is still a lot more to do, particularly in boosting mobile and broadband coverage, and improving the quality of service provided by telecoms companies. For example, rural areas still lag behind on broadband, with around a quarter of rural properties unable to get a 10 Mbit/s connection and 4G coverage in rural areas is only 37% of landmass, compared to 89% in towns and cities.
Countryside Alliance Head of Policy, Sarah Lee, commented:
“The Report tells us that while the digital divide is declining, it still exists. We welcome the improvements in broadband coverage but it is disappointing that 960,000 homes in rural areas still cannot get an adequate broadband connection and the Report makes it clear that future commercial roll outs are unlikely to fully address the problem. Coupled with the fact that geographic coverage for mobile phones is still poor and 4G remains mainly in urban areas, we continue to be concerned that rural areas are still being left behind.
“With the drive for digital by default these figures are unacceptable. We fully support the challenge from Ofcom to broadband and mobile operators to go beyond built up areas but we call on Ofcom and the Government to take action now to improve connectivity or the countryside will be left digitally behind forever.