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UK’s broadband gap failing rural families says NFU Mutual

Poor broadband is holding back the education of children in rural communities, according to NFU Mutual. 

The farmers’ insurance company found that around 20 per cent of families in rural regions have poor broadband connections, putting country kids at a disadvantage compared with children in better connected urban areas. 

The research found that not only are countryside households less likely to have superfast broadband they are half as likely to use mobile broadband through 3G and 4G than those in urban areas. 

Mind the Gap: The UK's superfast divide leave rural families behind
Mind the Gap: Is the UK’s superfast divide is failing rural families?

As a result, more than one third (36 per cent) of those who do have internet access in the rural areas say that it’s too slow for their needs. 

Tim Price, of NFU Mutual, told the BBC: “As more educational resources become internet-based, country children risk falling behind their urban counterparts. Studying via the internet is now a key part of children’s education and it’s unfair that learning opportunities are being affected by slow internet speeds. 

“Rural communities are already falling way behind and as the digital revolution gathers pace there’s a real risk that the viability of some rural businesses will be threatened and children be put at a disadvantage.” 

Figures published by research firm Point Topic earlier this week show that superfast broadband is available to 75 per cent of UK homes

While government backed schemes such as BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) and the Mobile Infrastructure Plan will see superfast broadband and 4G eventually reach more remote parts of the UK, coverage won’t extend to cover the whole of the UK. 

The town and country digital divide has seen groups like B4RN and Fibre GarDen forming to set up their own superfast broadband projects. ISP Gigaclear‘s business model is based on setting up FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) networks in areas which won’t be served by BDUK projects and large commercial ISPs like BT and Virgin Media. 

While there are groups working to close the superfast gap, Point Topic argues that there’s little point unless the people you’re digging fibre to are able to use it and able to afford it

Additional reporting by Thomas Newton. 

Image: Wayne Wilkinson/Flickr


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