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Rural estates may need to forge their own superfast broadband links, says farm agent

PUBLISHED: 09:01 04 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:01 04 January 2019

Farms and rural estates in East Anglia may need to seize the initiative to tackle the challenge of poor mainstream broadband connections, says Strutt and Parker. Picture: James Bass

Farms and rural estates in East Anglia may need to seize the initiative to tackle the challenge of poor mainstream broadband connections, says Strutt and Parker. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic / James Bass © 2011

Farms and rural estates in East Anglia may need to seize the initiative to tackle the challenge of poor mainstream broadband connections by investing in their own private high-speed networks, according to land and property agents.

While the universal service obligation (USO) means everyone across the UK should have the right to a high-speed broadband connection by 2020, it is unclear how network providers can deliver this within the time-scale, said Jason Cantrill from the farming team at the Norwich office of Strutt and Parker.

He said rural businesses have recognised the need to be proactive and are developing their own solutions to secure vital connectivity.

“Fast and reliable broadband and mobile connectivity is vital if rural estates are to have a healthy and vibrant future,” he said. “In the past, the costs of installing a private broadband network may have looked unviable. But the importance now placed on good connectivity, with growing numbers of people working from home, means that attracting tenants is difficult without being able to offer a reliable broadband service.

“At a time when many businesses are looking forward to the year ahead and considering ways to improve performance and protect and enhance non-agricultural revenues, the time may be right to consider investment in super-fast broadband.

“Each of the options have their own pros and cons and not all may be available for a particular use or location. But the good news is that in most instances there are practical solutions to the problem, some of which may attract grant funding.”

Alternatives to mainstream connectivity include a leased “fibre to the premises” (FTTP) connection which involves installing a physical fibre connection from the mainstream network across private land, satellite broadband signals and “over-the-air” solutions such as Fixed Wireless Access networks.

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