The UK’s Minister for Digital, Margot James, has re-emphasised the importance of providing connectivity to Britain’s rural communities, particularly as the country gears up to roll out 5G next year.
Speaking at the Connected Britain event in London on Tuesday, the Minister said that Britain’s agricultural sector could not afford to miss out on the transformative potential of 5G.
“If you look at that last 5 per cent of people who cannot receive superfast broadband, a lot of them live in rural communities. 5G has the potential to completely revolutionise 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.
The Minister said that the UK should be proud of the fact that it has achieved 95 per cent coverage for superfast broadband, but that it was crucial that the remaining 5 per cent were not left behind as the UK looks to fast track its digital economy.
“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 said.
While investment in the UK’s digital infrastructure is at an all-time high, James said that she wanted to see the rate of investment increase further.
“The recent announcements by BT, CityFibre and others are proof of the strong global interest in the sector – but we want the pace of that investment to increase.
“The government recognises that we have a role to play here and is working to create a favourable investment climate. We know the scale of the challenge ahead, as this country looks to move from a superfast to a full fibre future. That’s why we are increasing access to finance through the £400m digital infrastructure fund,” she said. – Total Telecom