Rural connectivity still holding back farms, survey finds

Poor broadband and mobile connectivity are stifling growth in farm businesses, the NFU’s latest digital technology survey has revealed.

Submitting VAT returns, GPS on tractors, talking to customers and much more all rely on strong connectivity.

As such, consistent access to the internet is needed for farmers to comply with UK regulations and operate their businesses efficiently.

See also: Is this Britain’s most expensive broadband?

But only 21% of NFU members who responded to the survey have a “reliable” mobile phone signal across their whole farm.

And fewer than half (48%) reported broadband speeds which they say are adequate for their business.

In total, 36% had superfast (24Mbps+) broadband speeds (up 12% from last year).

However, other members still report prohibitive costs for installation. And 67% of respondents with standard broadband have not been offered superfast broadband.

Mobile signal is also critically important for health and safety, in an industry where farmers often need to work in remote areas on their own.

NFU vice-president David Exwood said: “Ultimately, this lack of access is preventing UK farmers and growers from doing what they do best – producing home-grown, climate-friendly and affordable food.”

The NFU said the results of the survey highlight a pressing need for the government and telecommunications industry to reach the most remote areas still without coverage to achieve the Shared Rural Network’s aim to deliver 4G connectivity across the UK by 2025.

The NFU’s 2023 Digital Technology surveyed 814 farmers and growers from 14 December 2022 to 24 February 2023.

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