Broadband 'a leading concern for rural residents and businesses' header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

A growing number of rural residents and company heads are becoming concerned about their limited access to high-speed broadband connections.

This is according to data from a new rural sentiment survey from real estate company Knight Frank, which revealed that broadband has been identified as the main issue that the government needs to tackle to improve the countryside as a place to live or do business.

More than 70 percent of those who took the survey listed it as their top priority, while almost 50 per cent of respondents said poor broadband access was either affecting the profitability of their business or their quality of life at the moment.

Only 11 per cent of those questioned said this was not an issue to them, meaning internet connectivity is now seen as a bigger cause for concern than renewable energy, fly tipping, fracking, the HS2 rail project and the prospect of Scottish independence, all of which were ranked as lower priorities by those involved in the survey.

James Del Mar, head of Knight Frank's rural consultancy, said: "These results should send a strong message to the government that if it really wants to support rural business generation, it must provide the same quality broadband that those in the city take for granted.

He added: "There is a huge amount of innovation and entrepreneurship happening at the moment. It would be a shame if that was stifled due to poor broadband."

Internet access is likely to become an increasingly prominent concern for businesses and private residents in rural areas as more time passes. Online technology is becoming an integral and unavoidable part of everyday life, used for commerce, bill paying, advertising, communication and dealing with official bureaucracy, among many other uses.

As such, those based in the countryside may be tempted to invest in satellite broadband, a simpler solution that requires only the installation of a small satellite dish and modem to function. This technology can provide speeds of up to 20 Mbps in locations that might otherwise be cut off due to a lack of infrastructure.