The National Farmers Union has welcomed BT’s announcement that will see millions of isolated rural homes and businesses given access to super-fast fibre internet by 2025.
The company’s infrastructure arm Openreach has pledged to plug “hard to reach” areas into its next-generation network over the next five years, meaning it will have connected-up around a third of Britain’s most challenging properties.
It is part of BT’s £12 billion plan to connect 20 million homes and businesses to fibre optic cables in the next decade, giving them access to average download speeds of one gigagbit per second.
Amy Cobbett, the NFU’s business and rural affairs advisor, said: “The announcement by Openreach to roll out next generation fibre connections in the UK’s hardest to reach areas is welcome news for those farming businesses which continue to struggle with rural connectivity.
“The past few months during the COVID-19 lockdown has highlighted the importance of having a decent broadband connection particularly around the issue of mental wellbeing with many farmers being isolated. The new full-fibre network that’s been promised will also help boost productivity, and cut carbon emissions, in line with the farming industry’s net zero ambitions.”
The NFU’s 2019 mobile and broadband survey showed that more than four in 10 farmers still don’t have adequate broadband vital to conduct their business in the 21st Century.
Other survey findings included:
- 26% of farmers said slow broadband speeds/poor broadband was a barrier to further use of digital technology;
- 90% of farmers said they believed broadband is essential for their business; and
- 30% of farmers have download speeds of 2 Mbps or less.