Better rural broadband 'will improve UK's economic performance' header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

Recent efforts to improve internet connectivity for people in the countryside is likely to result in economic benefits for rural communities and the UK as a whole, according to the government.

New analysis from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has predicted that productivity is likely to grow faster in the countryside than in urban areas over the next decade, with a rise in rural jobs expected thanks to infrastructural improvements in these regions.

Currently, workers in rural areas in England are only 83 per cent as productive as their city-based counterparts, but this is likely to change as more and more companies and residents gain access to faster broadband connections and communications technology.

By 2017, public investment of £1.7 billion will result in 95 per cent of UK premises gaining access to superfast speeds, with work ongoing to identify suitable options to connect the remaining five per cent of hard-to-reach areas.

Satellite broadband will play a key role in this, as the technology is able to offer reliably quick connection speeds to remote areas without the need to first invest in cable network improvements.

This is important, as people living in the countryside are more likely to run their own businesses than those in towns, with knowledge-based industries like IT and consultancy seeing rapid growth in these areas. As such, better connectivity is a must.

Other factors driving growth in the countryside include recent investments in road networks and mobile signal coverage. All in all, output in rural areas is expected to potentially increase by around £35 billion as a result of these trends, with employment in these regions to rise by six per cent.

Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss said: "This is a truly exciting time for rural communities with the countryside set to become even more of an economic powerhouse for the UK."

She added: "Whether you're in a cottage in Cornwall or a small business in one of our great national parks, you are better connected now than ever before - ultimately that means greater opportunities, more jobs and improved wages and a better future."