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Poor Broadband and Mobile Discourages Moves to UK Countryside

Friday, November 16th, 2018 (12:01 am) - Score 680
mobile mast rural broadband uk

A new Opinium survey of 2,008 UK adults (79% from urban areas) has found that 9 million Brits (17%) won’t move to the countryside for fear of being cut off by poor broadband. Meanwhile 25% of existing rural residents say they struggle to make any mobile calls at home and 38% complained of slow or unreliable internet.

The survey, which was commissioned by uSwitch.com, also found that an estimated 13 million city dwellers would like to live in the countryside in the future. However, for the 37% who wouldn’t, more than half (58%) are put off by the “thought of poor broadband connections and patchy phone signal.”

Mind you it appears as if poor transport links still trumped concerns over broadband and mobile connectivity.

Top issues with living in the countryside

Rural living concern % of people concerned
Poor transport links 61%
Slow or unreliable broadband connections 58%
Poor or no mobile signal 55%
Lack of public services (eg doctor surgeries, schools etc) 48%
Lack of activities available (eg cinemas, restaurants etc) 42%

Geographic mobile coverage is indeed notoriously flaky in rural areas. Ofcom’s latest report (here) noted that 2G, 3G and 4G (voice) coverage by all operators combined only extends to 77% of UK premises, while 6% of premises are not being served by any single operator. Suffice to say that there will be plenty of notspots and weak signal areas, which also vary depending on whose network you’re using.

However the story for fixed line broadband connectivity is more complex. At present it’s estimated that “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+ capable) lines are within reach of more than 95% of premises (expected to hit 98% by 2020) and around 3% of premises would struggle to get speeds of 10Mbps+. Many rural areas should thus be able to get a better service, but we note that around 40% of premises still connect via old slow ADSL lines.

A number of other factors can impact take-up of faster services, such as the higher prices involved, as well as customers being locked into long contracts with their existing ISP (can’t upgrade yet) and a lack of general awareness (locals don’t always know what’s available) or interest in the new connectivity (if you have a decent ADSL2+ speed and only basic needs then you might feel less inclined to upgrade).

So as ever if you do want to move into the countryside then it pays to do a little research first, that way you can identify roughly which areas do benefit from good broadband speeds and decent mobile coverage. The downside is you might have to be a bit more flexible with where you move to and don’t get too attached to a specific area, particularly if it can’t deliver on what you need.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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12 Responses
  1. Billy

    It’s a terrible place the countryside, no buses, clean air, no cell coverage, mud everywhere, terrible broadband etc. You’re much better off staying where you are, it has to be better than here. And someone has to live in that concrete wasteland you call home.

    • Mike

      Smell of manure is your idea of clean air?

    • Moses

      How is living in the countryside better than the city, because the hardcore facts are right there in your face, do not get angry on here because the countryside folks in the uk are failing to attract us city dwellers. If you don’t like us then stay in your poorly connected countryside area and keep us urban folks away from weird and angry people like yourself, weirdo.

    • Joe

      ‘Facts’! The has been a constant movement out of the cities. Immigration in particular has helped the cities but the desire to leave has always been stong enough. Tbh many rural areas don’t welcome it as it drives up local property prices.

  2. 5G Infinity

    This is well known and also acknowledged by BT/EE, Vodafone, Three etc. Overnight fixes are not easy, so its another 5 to 10 years, with hopefully some respite in 1 year when FTTC rollout competes.

    DCMS’s outside-in LFFN Wave 4 with £200m matched funding is focused soley on Rural as is the next 5G TestBed call “Rural Call” from DCMS due this month with £30m on the table as matched funding.

  3. Pete

    Stop the press. Countryside living means there isn’t a shopping complex on your doorstep.
    Well I never knew..

    • AnotherTim

      That’s one of the reasons I like living in the countryside.However, if I want to shop I can choose to go to a town.
      If I want sewers I can install my own sewage plant (I have done). Heating (no gas supply) – oil tank and a log burner. Fast internet – there’s actually nothing I can do (satellite isn’t acceptable) as there is no backhaul available.

    • Mike

      Have you tried 4G with an antenna?

    • AnotherTim

      @Mike, yes I use 4G with high gain antenna load balanced with ADSL. 4G signal is great, but broadband is very very variable – erratic latency, and speeds ranging from quite good to pretty poor. Again it is lack of backhaul for the 4G that is the problem, oh, and the limited bandwidth allowance (100GB/month doesn’t go far when you work from home).

    • Mike

      Well EE offers 500GB now.

  4. Lard

    Something that I would have expected to be a newsworthy story is the gaming of coverage and speed stats by Openreach into Ofcom – statistics are based on mean speeds from cabinets (given by Openreach) that do not reflect those “rural” premises connected on long lines to local town exchanges – if we were to take the “committed” minimum speed statistics, which is a better reflection of what Openreach will commit to provide you the picture would be much different, and funnily enough more focus would be on rolling out decent connectivity to all – an example, I’m 3.5km outside a reasonable size town and classed as rural – the town has FTTC and my “likely” speed is 3Mbps – my committed speed is 100kbps! ADSL is likely 4Mbps but comes out flaky and unreliable, can’t receive any BDUK funding as they use BT Wholesales checker and “likely” speed to not only determine if any subsidy, but also to review if my county is “superfast” … which accordingly to Openreach is perfect, yet in reality is woefully served – now those broadband providers who give speed guarantees will now not even sell services to rural customers as they may impact the “average speed achieved” stats that can be using in advertising – I can see why it’s a worry for anyone looking to move outside a certain circumference of a telephone exchange…..

  5. Jayrowe

    As someone living in a rural part of Wales, with only fibre that terminates right inside our house, I say to city De, “You really wouldn’t like it” so please stay away…

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