GlobalData believe that UK residents and businesses located in rural areas should push for improved access to ultrafast broadband (with connectivity at 300 Mbps and above) and 5G services. One of the primary inhibitors to economic growth in the UK is the shortage of internet access services and lack of ultrafast broadband. It is also increasingly harder for consumers and businesses in rural areas to keep up with their urban neighbours.
Avi Greengart, Technology Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Delivering new connectivity services is expensive and takes time. Investment focuses on population-dense areas which offer the fastest returns, which threatens to create a wider social divide as economic development will be delayed in rural areas.
“The duty lies with businesses and governments to ensure this digital divide is not exacerbated.”
Vodafone has announced a partnership with CityFibre to support the roll out of gigabit fibre to the premise (FTTP) services, which double the speed and connectivity of regular broadband. This is a commitment to resell the service and does not yet represent financial backing, with plans presently limited to reaching only 20% of homes in the UK.
Openreach, which has greater financial power and is in a stronger position to deliver services, is bringing ultrafast broadband to 12 million homes and businesses by 2020 – however, it is less than 50% of the total number.
Greengart continued: “The reality is that many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups in more rural areas will be left out as they will suffer from the lack of availability of affordable ultrafast connectivity. Supporting SMEs is crucial to the growth of the economy and future prosperity.”
In Germany, the government required operators to prioritise rural areas when rolling out 4G, and similar schemes should be considered for 5G, according to GlobalData.
Greengart added: “5G can represent a lower-cost, high-bandwidth alternative to access services based on fibre or copper. Residents and businesses located in local areas should be pushing mobile network providers to invest in 5G services.”