Superfast broadband reaches 95%, but rural areas left behind

An estimated 95% of UK homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband, according to the government.

Landowners’ organisation the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said achieving 95% coverage was an “important milestone” – but more work is needed to end the “digital divide” between towns and rural locations.

Figures published by www.thinkbroadband.com confirmed more than 19 out of 20 UK homes and businesses now have the opportunity to upgrade their internet connections to superfast speeds of 24Mps.

See also: ‘Forgotten 5% face broadband shutout’

This figure is more than double what broadband watchdog Ofcom advise is required by a typical family home.

The government intends to introduce a universal service obligation (USO), which will give people the right to request a broadband speed of at least 10Mps by 2020.

But the latest announcement will be of little comfort to the “forgotten 5%” and “final 2%” who still cannot access superfast broadband – a figure which includes thousands of farms across the UK.

Rural areas ‘devoid of broadband’

CLA president Tim Breitmeyer said: “This [announcement] still leaves significant areas devoid of a fast connection, critical for many rural businesses.

“Getting connections to rural homes and businesses is complex and expensive but it is essential and a crucial part of establishing fairness and balance in the economy. That is why the USO of 10Mbps that we fought so hard for, is important not only to rural areas but to the whole country.”

He added: “It is not just imperative to get rural homes and businesses connected in the first place but also to ensure the service they receive keeps pace with demand and technological change.

“The USO must be enacted in law without delay. Once it is in force, we will press for it to be constantly updated to end the digital divide that has held back our economy for too long.”

‘Digital divide’ closing

The £1.7bn government rollout of superfast to areas has so far reached more than 4.5 million UK premises, the majority of which are in rural areas.

The government claims closing the “digital divide” has created around 50,000 new local jobs and generated an additional £8.9bn in turnover in areas covered by the rollout between 2013 and 2016.

But according to a recent Welsh government report, seven of the UK’s slowest areas for broadband speeds are in Wales.


Are you a farmer or landowner in the UK still without access to superfast broadband? If so, email philip.case@reeedbusiness.com with your stories.

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