Rural broadband service on farms ‘slower than on Everest’

A survey of broadband speeds has found some rural areas are slower than the base camp at Mount Everest.

According to the survey, by, five villages in Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire, Cumbria and Somerset have broadband speeds so slow that it would take a full week to download a film.

The slowest broadband speed was recorded in the Gloucestershire village of Miserden, where speeds barely surpass the 1Mbps mark.

By comparison, the highest average broadband speed was recorded in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, which benefits from a staggering 77.17Mbps – 60 times faster than Miserden.

Visitors to the Everest base camp can also access broadband speeds of more than 2Mbps via a satellite connection.

The government aims to provide superfast broadband coverage of at least 2Mbps to 90% of the UK by early 2016 and 95% by December 2017. It has also committed to a universal broadband speed on 10Mbps by 2020.

See also: Ofcom decision ‘must speed up rural broadband’

But the latest survey has done little to instil confidence in farmers that their businesses will get access to an adequate broadband service any time soon.

The Cumbrian town of Ulverston recorded the third worst average download speed at 1.45Mbps.

Ulverston farmers J Woodburn and Sons said their broadband service was “not very good”.

“We are lucky if we get three bars,” said a spokeswoman. “We do have broadband. Occasionally it drops out and sometimes we cannot get any service at all.

“It feels like we are the last to get it. We have been told our service is so bad because we are too far from the exchange. Our sons complain about it bitterly.”

NFU Somerset county chairman James Small, who farms at Warren Farm on top of the Mendip Hills, about 15 miles from Bristol, described his broadband service was “woefully inadequate”.

Mr Small said: “The landline broadband speed where my farm is located gets about 1Mbps. It’s not the fastest, but at least it is not as bad as my uncle’s next door. He gets 0.7Mbps

“I have talked to BT about it, but it looks like we will not have any landline solution because of the distance we are from the exchange.

“The government wants to push everyone towards ‘digital-by-default’ which is a smashing aspiration. But the agricultural sector is really badly positioned for that, just because of our geographical location.”

Mr Small said a poor broadband speed was preventing him from using the latest EID technology on farm.

“For our business needs, we can send emails. But I would like to do a bit more with technology, such as use EID to record livestock. But we don’t get enough internet coverage to be able to record it in the field.”

As for mobile phone coverage, Mr Small can get access to 3G, but the coverage is also poor.

He added: “Ironically, when I took a holiday to Lanzarote, in a volcano setting, I could get 4G everywhere. It was incredibly quick. But I cannot get it here.”


Top five UK areas with slowest broadband speeds


Average download speed (Mbps)

Miserden, Gloucestershire


Ashwell, Hertfordshire


Ulverston, Cumbria


Gilsland, Cumbria


Brent Knoll, Somerset



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