It is unacceptable that rural communities remain ‘second class citizens’ when it comes to accessing broadband and mobile coverage, according to NFU Cymru.
In a survey, conducted by the NFU in October 2018, 46% of those questioned didn’t believe they received sufficient broadband for the needs of their business, while 37% didn’t believe they received sufficient mobile signal for the needs of the business.
NFU Cymru President, John Davies said: “In this digital age, where technology is moving so quickly, I find it extremely frustrating to hear of members who still fail to open an email or receive a phone call due to poor broadband or mobile coverage on farm. This is absolutely unacceptable and is holding farmers back from maximising business opportunities.
“In a Cabinet Statement in December, on Superfast Cymru, Julie James AM announced that Wales now enjoys over 95% broadband access coverage to homes and businesses, however 50% of our respondents who had internet connection had a download speed of 2Mbps or lower. Considering the average download speed in Wales is 33.4Mbps, it is apparent that rural communities are second class citizens when it comes to accessing sufficient broadband.
“Welsh Government continues to push the need for Welsh farmers to become more resilient - especially ahead of Brexit - and this is exactly what the industry is striving for, but broadband and mobile coverage is holding us back. 46% of those surveyed didn’t believe they received sufficient broadband for the needs of their business and 37% of those surveyed didn’t believe they received sufficient mobile signal for the needs of the business. How can businesses become more resilient when they can’t even access the standard communication channels?
“With the industry facing so much uncertainty, it is clear that farmers need as many tools as possible to maintain business resilience, and having access to digital connectivity is paramount if they are to compete with our international neighbours in the global market.”
John Davies continued: “Most worryingly for me is the health and safety aspect. Only 16% of respondents reported that they had reliable mobile signal in all outdoor locations when on farm, with 9% saying they have no reliable locations for mobile signal when outdoors. With farmers often working long hours alone in isolated locations it is vital that farmers have access to reliable mobile coverage to call for help.
“More must be done by Welsh Government to ensure the connectivity divide between urban and rural communities is decreased. The benefits that full connectivity will bring to farming businesses will enable the industry to continue to be productive, profitable and progressive in the future.”