The United Kingdom may dominate many industries globally, but the telecommunications industry certainly isn’t one of them. According to reports, UK broadband is super-slow and much of the rural population are struggling to get online.
According to the Financial Times, there are British towns and villages with virtually no mobile signal and barely any broadband, which is having a devastating effect on the economy.
“With a minimum speed guarantee of half a megabit per second over a landline, children are forced to do their homework at school and farmers lodging government forms have to travel to the nearest big town,” the newspaper writes.
‘rural regions are becoming increasingly frustrated with the services provided and are even taking matters into their own hands’
Areas like Exmoor in the West country, and other rural regions are becoming increasingly frustrated with the services provided and are even taking matters into their own hands to rectify the problems.
“Families do not want to return to B&Bs, however beautiful the rural Exmoor landscape, because their children refuse to spend a holiday without Wi-Fi. Businesses have to start up elsewhere, put off by the lack of communications infrastructure that customers and suppliers now demand as a given,” the Financial Times adds.
“On Exmoor, taxpayers have paid 4.6 million GBP in subsidy to an outfit in Worcester that proposes slinging telephone lines between trees across the moors to access a better signal to rural homeowners.”
British Telecom has also helped members of the public take matters into their own hands where “120 households raised 75,000 GBP to pay Openreach a less-than-commercial price to bring two superfast fiber broadband cabinets to their village.”
According to the UK’s regulator Ofcom, the UK ranks fifth in the world for availability of broadband, but only 17 of 19 nations when it comes to access to the best technology. Experts blame the UK’s BT telecommunications firm for a bad service, which is responsible for connecting many internet providers to their customers in the country.
The problem is becoming so bad that not only businesses in the West country are affected, but the economy is suffering even in built up areas like London and Guildford, and more widespread in areas including Yorkshire and the Lake District.
Businesses complain of misleading promises as to the quality of UK broadband services they receive, and technical issues are causing problems up and down Britain.
According to Network Communications News (NCN), the blanket rollout of faster internet speeds hasn’t been the revolution the government and communications companies were proposing seven years ago. Broadband is slow, there are issues throughout the United Kingdom, and customers are becoming increasingly frustrated with poor services.
Government ministers have said they are implementing measures that aim to achieve superfast broadband for all, and insist they are on track to reach 95% of the UK by the end of 2017. Governments around the world are aiming for UK broadband speeds of over 100Mbps for most of their citizens before 2025, and the UK insists it will also hit those targets.
Ofcom states that a staggering 1.4m homes across Britain still could not get a broadband connection offering speeds of 10 megabits per second. FT states that these findings only prove the failings of government, and their lack of political direction.
Local government, national parties and leading telcos have all been criticized for their failings. Meanwhile, Ofcom has proposed a universal service obligation, which would ensure that every home and small business had the right to a “decent, affordable” broadband connection. However, this would only come into force in 2020, and would only provide speeds of 10 megabits, 40% below the government’s definition of “superfast”.
Sources say it will cost “at least 25bn GBP” to deliver full fiber across the UK, to bring it up-to-speed. But, it would seem the British government doesn’t view broadband as an “important infrastructure project” in desperate need of investment or attention. For this dream to become a reality, and for Brits to receive a superfast UK broadband speed, it will take bold steps by policymakers, legislators and politicians to ensure the infrastructure is ready to deliver world worthy services.