A new industry report has shown that one in three households in rural England cannot access basic mobile network services on any of the UK’s four major mobile network operators (MNOs).
The report, published by Rural England CIC, found that 33 percent of people living in rural communities across England could not obtain a strong enough mobile network signal to make a simple voice call or access mobile broadband services.
“Nearly a fifth of people in England live in rural areas, yet the evidence shows that many of them face inadequate services, such as being unable to make mobile phone calls or being without transport options,” said Brian Wilson, author of the report and chairman of Rural England CIC.
“Two years after we released the first State of Rural Services report it seems clear that rural residents frequently still lose out in terms of funding and access to services. The challenges facing rural communities are likely to grow in the coming years and this will be reflected in their service needs. If policies and service delivery were properly rural proofed it seems evident that those needs would be much better met,” he added.
Alarmingly, the report found that 58 percent of people living in rural communities were unable to receive a 4G signal in their home – compared with just 16 percent of people living in metropolitan areas.
Speaking at the Connected Britain event in London last year, the UK’s Digital Minister, Margot James said that ensuring that Britain’s rural communities must not be excluded from the country’s 5G rollout plans – saying that improving connectivity in Britain’s rural communities was paramount to safeguarding the UK’s digital economy post-Brexit.
“If you look at that last 5 percent of people who cannot receive superfast broadband, a lot of them live in rural communities. 5G has the potential to completely revolutionize the agricultural sector which is clearly based in rural areas, so I don’t think that it is particularly good enough for us to take the same approach that we have taken to superfast where we roll it out in the cities and urban areas first and then worry about the rural areas later. I don’t think that is acceptable and with the coming revelation that is 5G, it would represent an enormous opportunity missed,” she said.
“Currently there are 1.5 million people and businesses in the UK who are struggling to compete in the modern world because they can’t get access to superfast broadband,” she added.
Connected Britain will return on the 18th and 19th of June 2019, bringing together the key stakeholders from the UK’s mobile and fixed-line connectivity sectors. Once again, the event will focus on strategies for overcoming Britain’s digital divide, particularly in the run-up to 5G rollout later in the year.―Total Telecom