The West Country's broadband woes header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

From the beaches of Cornwall to the rugged hills of Dartmoor, the West Country is one of the most picturesque corners of the UK. 

Tourists from across the country flock here every year and to many it must seem like a perfect place to live. In some ways they would be right, as the West Country can be a fantastic part of the UK to call your home, but there is one inevitable problem that affects the region - broadband. 

The West Country's beauty and charm stems from the fact that it is a rural area, with relatively little in the way of built-up urban settlements. While this is excellent for the scenery, it can be a major problem when it comes to broadband, as receiving a fast and reliable connection can be notoriously difficult in the countryside. As a result, some of the UK's slowest broadband services can be found in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire.

Funding fears 
The subject of West Country broadband has been in the news recently, as the Western Morning News reported plans to bring super-fast connectivity to 95 per cent of Devon and Somerset may have to be abandoned as the two local authorities cannot raise the £22.75 million in funding needed. 

Connections are still due to be upgraded in 90 per cent of the area through the government-backed Connecting Devon and Somerset project, but there is a risk that the extra five per cent, which are located in hard-to-reach rural areas, may miss out. This is potentially worrying for people living in such locations, as these tend to be the parts of the country that need better broadband most.

Getting a kicking
Somerset's broadband problems have also been raised by Rupert Cox, chief executive officer of Somerset Chamber of Commerce. In April, he told Western Daily Press businesses in the county are "getting a right kicking" due to the lack of reliable internet in the area. 

Meanwhile, local conservative politician David Warburton said: "A lot of people are working from home and find the speed is very slow, and it sometimes drops out. It's hard to function in these situations."

Situations like this are common throughout rural communities in the West Country and with the internet becoming an increasingly important part of everyday life, people's need for better broadband will only become greater.

What can be done?
As mentioned, projects such as Connecting Devon and Somerset aim to bring super-fast broadband to the majority of the West Country, but this may take several more years to complete and it is still not clear exactly which areas will be excluded from the scheme. 

This is not the only option for improving connectivity in the area however. Satellite broadband is ideally suited to bringing fast and reliable internet access to the West Country's rural communities, as it is available now and requires minimal infrastructural development unlike other technologies. Indeed, satellite broadband has been recognised by the government as an ideal means of providing faster internet for the areas its own rollout will not reach.