Farming groups have given a cautious welcome to the Government’s announcement that around 600,000 more rural homes and businesses are to gain access to superfast broadband.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has revealed £440 million made up of cost savings and returned subsidies from BT will be ploughed back into connecting hard-to-reach areas.
The news came as telecoms regulator Ofcom published a report showing around one-quarter of properties in rural areas are still unable to get a good broadband connection.
NFU senior planning and rural affairs adviser Suzanne Clear said: “This additional funding outlined by the Culture Secretary today is very welcome given many farmers are just not able to get the broadband speeds and mobile coverage they need.
“However, it is critical this money is spent on rural-proofed solutions which can deliver broadband infrastructure all the way to farm businesses and homes – and not just to enable fibre to cabinets that farmers and rural families then find out they cannot be connected to.
“We need comprehensive solutions to deliver a reliable superfast broadband infrastructure to all farm premises at a cost they can afford.”
CLA rural business adviser Dr Charles Trotman said the next two years would be ‘crucial’ in ending the digital divide which continues to hold back the rural economy.
“It is also essential for the Government and industry to embrace the range of technologies that could be used to deliver the best possible connections to tackle the most remote and difficult to connect homes”, he added.