Farms still missing out on mobile and broadband services

Farmers are still struggling to get reliable mobile phone coverage and access to internet services, a new survey of NFU members has found.

One year on from the NFU’s first farmer-focused mobile phone and broadband survey, it’s been revealed that 85% of those asked have unreliable mobile signals across their farms, despite more smartphone users having access to 4G coverage.

The survey also found that a serious lack of broadband coverage continues to exist. Only 6% of respondents had access superfast download speeds. Read the full survey findings here.

Key issues affecting farmers:

  • 85% of farmers have an unreliable outdoor mobile phone signal
  • 82% of farmers have an unreliable indoor mobile phone signal
  • Just 6% of farmers have access to superfast download speeds

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said that the government must wake up and make the roll-out of superfast broadband to all farms a priority, alongside complete mobile phone coverage.

“More than ever farmers need to use digital technologies to help farm more efficiently and fully utilise emerging digital technology such as robotics and GPS,” he said.

“Yet no signal for mobile phone voice or text and a severe lack of broadband coverage is creating a real barrier for those farm businesses and putting them at a disadvantage.

“The ever-growing digital divide between urban and rural workplaces needs to be bridged. Government should recognise that, internationally, the UK is trailing behind other countries, putting our farmers at a competitive disadvantage. That’s why we are calling on government to adopt a much more ambitious approach to finding ways to get fast broadband to those areas that need it most.

“This will mean ensuring there is necessary regulation in place and a competitive rural market. It is also essential to lay the foundations for an effective 5G network - universal coverage, with safe, fast and efficient systems that farmers can access to provide food and rural based services for domestic and international markets, while maintaining the countryside we all cherish, work in and visit.”

The NFU surveyed more thanr 800 members in 2015 and again in 2016. The NFU is lobbying for fast, affordable and reliable broadband and mobile phone coverage for farmers, growers and their rural communities.

  • Posted by: D HicklingPosted on: 20/07/2017 13:46:10

    Comment: We are in between Grantham and Nottingham and have ZERO Broadband available from our telephone exchange. Superfast Leicestershire have advised us that we unfortunately fall into the 5% who have long line issues so not to expect any change in at least 5 years. The only mobile provider to cover this area is Vodafone and there are only parts of the farm with cover and inside is nearly hopeless. Is it worth starting a government petition to abandon HS2 and invest in 100% Rural Broadband coverage? It seems last tranche of investment was to improve speeds of those in densely populated areas who already had broadband. What about the 5% left totally behind? It is extremely difficult and frustrating trying to run a business here in the middle of England. I am now going to attempt to send this for the 2nd time as last time it rained and lost connection.
  • Posted by: Liz HalePosted on: 27/07/2017 08:15:00

    Comment: We live in CV36 4JJ post code area and we have no broadband via BT Phone line, No phone signal and have had to resort to satelite, ofcom has confirmed that we receive a poor signal for this, no more than 5Mbps download on a good day and 450kbps upload. Warwickshire council and CSW broadband say they cannot help, the details CSW Broadband have re us being supplied are incorrect, we have in desperation gone to our MP Nadhim Zahawi who is trying to help us, within a 1 1/2 mile radius all the villages have fast fibre broadband, we have been told unofficially by BT engineers that they cannot understand why we are being blocked from having this service, do you have any advice?

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