Carter Jonas
Carter Jonas

Success for rural businesses as rural communities are set to receive superfast broadband

As 2016 drew to a close, a seasonal gift from the government was given to rural communities - the announcement that many of the country’s most remote communities will receive funding for superfast broadband.

It is estimated this will result in around 600,000 more homes and businesses connected to superfast broadband, after the government recouped £440m from "efficiency savings" and subsidies returned by BT as part of the government's flagship broadband rollout scheme.

The success of the private/public partnership between the government and BT can be attributed to the enthusiastic uptake of superfast broadband by the UK’s rural communities, as the 2010 agreement stated that if more than 20% of premises in those areas bought superfast broadband, BT had to repay some of the subsidy. According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport the up-take has been 30.6%.

The agreement between the government and BT was made as market providers had said it was not cost-effective to install broadband infrastructure in remote areas.

Amidst some criticism that the Broadband Delivery UK project presented an overbearing monopoly handed to one provider - BT does look likely to meet the target of putting 95% of homes within reach of superfast broadband by 2017 - and this new investment could mean that 97% are reached by 2020.

For rural communities, the benefits will be significant, enabling businesses in remote parts of the country to compete with their urban counterparts. More importantly, it will level the playing field between “more accessible” rural areas, and those on the more remote end of the scale, who frequently compete in the same market place in the agricultural, farming and forestry sectors. 

The boost also couldn’t come at a better time with Brexit negotiations this year, as the programme has now put the UK ahead of other major European countries in rolling out superfast broadband, which can only be a positive for the rural economy.

Although it remains to be seen how the roll out will work in practice, it’s certainly a step in the right direction in connecting our country’s most remote and beautiful areas.

Andrew FallowsFRICS, FAAV

Partner - Head of Rural Agency

Andrew is the Senior Managing Agent for The Crown Estate having responsibility for management across East Anglia, East Midlands, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. He heads the National Rural Agency team a...

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