UK farmers told to build own broadband networks

UK farmers told to build own broadband networks

A real estate agency has told British farmers to develop and establish their own private broadband networks instead of waiting for the Government to deploy its Universal Service Obligation (USO) initiative that will deliver 10Mbps+ internet speeds to all poorly connected areas in the country.

The USO, installed by either BT (Openreach) or KCOM by 2020, is aimed at delivering faster internet speeds to the 2-3 per cent of the country that still struggles to reach superfast broadband services of 24Mbps+.

Strutt & Parker has given this advice to farmers in rural locations, with senior associate director Stuart Gray stating: “In the past, the costs of installing a private broadband network may have looked unviable. But the importance now placed on good connectivity, with growing numbers of people working from home, means that attracting tenants is difficult without being able to offer a reliable broadband service.”

The real estate firm has proposed three options, which include a physical Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) connection from the main network (across private land), satellite broadband which negates the use of underground copper or fibre networks, or over-the-air solutions like Fixed Wireless Access networks which uses radio frequencies to send signals.

Gray added: “At a time when many businesses are looking forward to the year ahead and considering ways to improve performance and protect and enhance non-agricultural revenues, the time may be right to consider investment in super-fast broadband.

“Each of these options have their own pros and cons and not all may be available for a particular use or location. But the good news is that in most instances there are practical solutions to the problem, some of which may attract grant funding.”

The proposal, however, has been met with some reservations, particularly with regards to the cost of funding private broadband networks in distant and rural locations. Anticipated to cost thousands of pounds to install - when Government Gigabit Vouchers only cover £2,500 - it has been argued that only large corporations will benefit from this, and not small farming enterprises with little money to spare.

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