The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been seeking views on the Government’s draft Statement of Strategic Priorities (SSP) for telecommunications, the management of radio spectrum and post.
The NFU has welcomed the objective to provide nationwide full-fibre gigabit-capable networks by 2033 and the approach to provide full capability across all of the UK and to ensure that no areas are systematically left behind. While the vision, as described in the consultation, sets out the connectivity of the future, the NFU is concerned that many of our members (principally in rural communities) are being denied access to even basic fixed line broadband and mobile coverage right now. Through evidence from the NFU broadband and mobile survey 2018, the NFU describes the state of rural connectivity now and how this is acting as a barrier to productivity improvements and wider diversification. The NFU is calling for more clarity on roaming services to consumers when licencing spectrum, and for more clarity and monitoring of 5G mobile services.
In addition, the NFU believes that the delivery of the DCMS / Ofcom objective to secure sustainable and efficient universal postal service must extend to the maintenance of the rural Post office branch network. As a result, small businesses should be able to quickly transfer basic banking facilities to their nearest post office branch, including depositing both cash and cheques as well as accessing change. More awareness needs to be made of the services available at Post Office branches.
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