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Calling ALL Farmers – The NFU Wants to Know About Naff Broadband and Mobile

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 (11:52 am) - Score 571

The National Farmers Union has launched their annual survey of broadband and mobile connectivity, which will run for the next five weeks and is seeking feedback from farmers about the quality of their local telecoms and internet connectivity.

Remote rural areas are often last on the list to benefit from upgrades to better mobile and faster fixed line broadband connectivity, which is a problem because many of those areas represent the very locations where farmers tend to ply their trade.

Well you could try managing sheep and cattle in the middle of a city but grass is usually in short supply and, given enough time, it’s possible that the animals might instead resort to eating humans or politicians. The latter may not be such a bad outcome.

Guy Smith, NFU Vice President, said:

“The NFU is calling on the government to make the digital economy universal, so that every farming business can access superfast broadband, at speeds they can afford, with coverage across all of their farms.

We do not believe that the government is doing enough for farmers and rural communities to get connected. The proposed broadband Universal Service Obligation of 10Mbps, and BT’s equivalent offer for 1.4 million rural premises, is far lower in speed than urban broadband users receive now.

It is also troubling to us that 4G coverage is being rolled out at a slower rate to rural areas and voice coverage is falling out. Previously, our surveys have shown that only 15% of farmers have mobile coverage across the farm. Our members need a plan in place to accelerate the delivery of rural services and lay the foundations for 5G services.

With its 46,000 members and in-house survey team, the NFU is well placed to present credible evidence about everyday issues facing farmers directly to government and the digital industry. I would encourage as many members as possible to complete this broadband and mobile survey and get their voices heard.”

Apparently the NFU intends to contact many of their members by phone, although a new online survey will also be made available via their website at some point today.

Side Note: The USO figure of 1.4 million premises stated above is already quite out of date because the coverage of fixed line superfast broadband continues to improve. Ofcom’s most recent document estimated that by 2021 the number of UK premises needing intervention via a 10Mbps USO would be around 785,000 (here); this will also include some urban / suburban areas, it’s not all rural.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. moo says:

    Would be interesting if the could also ask how many farmer have been contacted by telecoms companies enquiring about wayleave or locating mobile base stations on their land… and how many agreed 😉

    1. Tj says:

      Most land owners/farmers would love to host a cellular 4G mast if that enabled better service!

      We have an O2 4G mast at the back of our farm. It provides far faster service than the fixed line Openreach service which is on copper lines between 2km and 2.5km in length. The former just about supports 10Mbps VDSL2 on a good day, the latter can only support ~2.5Mbps ADSL2.

      The downside is the cost of 4G data connections for the quantity of data many farmers now handle from machinery, vehicles, crop management, aerial surveys, and so on.

    2. Dave says:

      It would interesting to see how many emmits come to live in the country side and prevent the development of anything.

    3. Joe says:

      @£150/post farmers as usually happy to have them provided telcos don’t put them in stupid places. And some of the proposals i’ve seen are so idiotic. The problem of planners designing route from an office 100s of miles away not looking on the ground.

  2. Fastman says:

    suggest if you getting 10m vdsl you could also ask Openreach via Community fibre partnership to see what it would cost for you and a couple of neighbours to do FTTP

  3. certacito says:

    TJ – is your 10 Mbps service from O2 really being delivered by VDSL2 (over a copper cable)? Or is it being delivered over over cellular 3G (UMTS) or 4G (LTE) wireless?

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