Broadband funding welcomed, but it must reach rural communities

THE FUW has responded positively to news that there are plans to bring full fibre broadband to an additional three million homes and businesses in some of the UK’s most isolated rural communities, but stresses it must really reach them.

The connection to 3 .2 million UK premises, which was given the go‐ahead after an Ofcom consultation, is reported to be part of a £1 2 bn investment by Openreach to build full fibre infrastructure to 2 0 million premises throughout the UK by the end of this decade.

Places set to benefit include Aberystwyth in west Wales, Millom in Cumbria, Thurso in north‐east Scotland, and Ballycastle in County Antrim. Openreach is due to publish the full list of the 2 5 1 locations, referred to as Area 3 , where it will build the new network. Ofcom has estimated there are 9 .6 million homes and

businesses situated in this final third of the UK.

Responding to the announcement, FUW Ceredigion County Chairman Morys Ioan said: “The last few months have served as a stark example of how vital connectivity is. Our own Union staff, many of whom live in rural areas, have been working from home and we have continued to assist members with digital paperwork for their farm businesses. Without an internet connection this would not have been possible.

“It is really good news that this extra funding is being directed at rural communities but we must make sure that it really does go to those premises who currently are not benefitting from full fibre broadband. The FUW has stressed on many occasions that those without a connection cannot diversify their businesses, that they cannot support their children’s education and that they cannot connect readily with Government programmes for advice and support payments as they are mandated to do.”

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