Questions around rural broadband rollout

Countryside organisations are forming up behind a hardhitting Select Committee report that describes the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s broadband rollout project as ‘a failure’. The CLA points out that many rural areas remain in the ‘technological dark ages’. However, a less publicised effect of the present strategy’s inability to extend superfast broadband connection throughout the countryside is that houses without it become unsaleable.

‘I have, on several occasions, advised a client not to buy a house because of the lack of connection,’ explains Frank Speir, director of Prime Purchase. ‘As soon as you veer beyond the immediate commuterbelt land around London, most buyers require an element of working from home. If the house sits between villages, it’s likely to be at the end of a telephone exchange with a very slow connection. Sometimes, this can be overcome by a satellite connection, but if you’re at the bottom of a valley and there are leaves on the trees, it won’t work. At that point, I have to advise against purchase.’

Early results from the Knight Frank Rural Sentiment Survey 2013 show that well over half of respondents cite a fast connection as the main issue the Government should tackle to improve life in the countryside; 73% cite slow broadband as the main barrier to doing business. The Government admits that 10% of rural addresses will not be covered by their scheme. ‘The secrecy surrounding [these addresses] will hold back delivery of broadband to the countryside as other arrangements cannot be made,’ says the Countryside Alliance’s Barney White Spunner.

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