How Openreach changes could help rural broadband users

Rural broadband report images_34405

Digital regulator Ofcom has announced new plans for Openreach to operate more independently of BT, and for BT to open up its network to competitors.

From our point of view, it’s really important that the rural broadband market is allowed to flourish and for our farmers to know if, and when, they will get broadband through the BT rollout to 95% of the population. If not, they need to know what other choices are available.

Access to quality broadband is essential for productive farm businesses seeking to bring quality food to the consumer, so we also welcome three new measures announced today by Ofcom. All have been part our lobbying:

Openreach will be made to repair faults and install new lines more quickly. Many farmers are relying on old infrastructure that slows down services and getting faster repairs could make a real difference.

Performance tables will be published from next year, showing who provides the best service. With performance tables at last we will be able to know who really is interested in providing rural broadband and where farmers and rural communities should best spend their money.

Broadband coverage checkers will be available by address and not just postcode. So many farmers have waited in vain for broadband to come to their postcode only to find their property cannot be connected.

NFU members: Have your say

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  • Posted by: Simon TaylorPosted on: 28/07/2016 09:20:02

    Comment: BT / Openreach will always duck the issue of providing decent Broadband to the rural community (we are three miles from our exchange and currently running at 0.1 mbps) until their hand is forced. Because BT was privatised in the 1980's they can't be told what to do, and Ofcom has recently shied away from splitting off Openreach, so BT will continue to do the arithmetic and conclude that it doesn't make sense for them to spend a lot of money on infrastructure to provide SFBB to rural premises when they can carry on charging rural customers the same amount as they do their urban customers for an "upto 18 mbps" service that actually delivers about 1/200 th of that speed.

    The simple solution is for Ofcom to mandate that the amount charged for Broadband and line rental directly reflects the actual average speed delivered - so an urban customer receiving an average of 16 mbps on an "upto 18 mbps" bundle costing £40 /month would pay £35.55 / month, whereas a rural customer receiving an average of 0.1 mbps would pay 22p / month. Put it another way, why should rural customers pay the same for a hugely inferior service - would you pay the same for cheap mince as for fillet steak?

    This would concentrate BT's mind wonderfully.

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