Britain’s mobile phone coverage currently ranks 54th in the world, worse than Romania and Peru, with 80% of rural premises unable to get 4G connectivity.
That’s according to a scathing report from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIA), which calls on the government to tackle “digital deserts” and become a world leader in 5G connectivity.
Releasing the report, NIA chair Lord Adonis said: “5G is the future – ultra-fast and ultra-reliable, it has the potential to change our lives and our economy in ways we cannot even imagine today. But the UK is currently languishing in the digital slow lane.”
The report found Brits are only able to access 4G services 53% of the time. It also found that 80% of rural premises in the UK are in 4G “not-spots”.
Previously, an NFU 2015 member survey showed 70% of smartphone users have no access to 4G at all.
Farmers need 4G
Suzanne Clear, NFU senior adviser for planning and rural affairs, said: “We welcome the NIA’s report, which has highlighted both how 4G coverage needs to be accelerated geographically and also how important it is to get a plan for universal 5G coverage.
“But we would stress that a plan for 5G has to be rural-proofed and ensures farmers and growers can make the most of this potential digital revolution.
“Farmers need 4G coverage for voice and text as well as an alternative way to access the internet and get the data services they need.”
The NFU report, Spotlight on Farm Broadband and Mobile Networks, which was launched in London in May, called for research into 5G technology to be targeted to agriculture and other spectrum advances.