The newly installed government minister for rural affairs has told V3 that wider broadband coverage in remote regions is vital for the future prosperity of the nation.
Dan Rogerson, who was recently given responsibility for broadband in remote areas by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said rollouts such as those seen in Cumbria by EE must be repeated in other parts of the UK.
“The industry are our friends in achieving this [the Cumbria rollout] but also we can challenge them to find the business case in rural areas,” he said.
“There is huge untapped potential in rural areas to deliver new jobs, new investment and training for young people. What’s been so encouraging in areas like this is to see the takeup from the community, as it proves people want it.”
The rollout in Cumbria by EE has seen speeds of between 20Mbps and 40Mbps delivered to firms in the area, helping transform the way they work.
EE said the success should prove to the government that mobile broadband can replace fixed in remote locations and that it should ease back on 4G price-hike plans that could hinder its ability to roll out in other remote areas.
V3 put this question to Rogerson but, while he acknowledged the benefits of 4G, he said that fixed services are still needed.
“I think a lot of people would like to see fibre everywhere, and maybe longer term that will become standard, but certainly in the very remote places mobile can really plug those gaps.”
The comments come as Rogerson’s home county of Cornwall is being provided with high-speed broadband by BT, with over 80 percent of premises in the county now able to access services.
So far over 4,000 SMEs have taken up the service, as businesses in remote locations start to finally appreciate the benefits of a high-speed broadband connection to help improve their productivity.
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