Welsh farmers have stressed that more has to be done to improve mobile phone coverage and access to superfast broadband in rural Wales. Members of NFU Cymru’s Rural Affairs Board met on Tuesday 6th December, and said that many people living in rural communities felt that limited access to good signal and a reliable internet connection was ‘holding back’ their business. The board expressed their hopes that a recent Ofcom decision to separate BT and Openreach would open up the network and result in a better infrastructure and faster, more reliable broadband. The Farmers’ Union of Wales has also stressed that Government should focus their support on rural communities and improving living standards, with broadband being an area that requires ‘urgent attention.’ ‘Hindered for a considerable amount of time’ Hedd Pugh, Chairman of NFU Cymru’s Rural Affairs Board, said farmers have been ‘hindered’ by poor connectivity issues for a ‘considerable amount of time.’ “We know of several examples from across Wales where farmers have invested in new technology on farm, but because so much of this technology is dependent on broadband they are unable to take advantage of the benefits of this investment. “Quite often rural customers are paying the same amount for the restricted service they receive as urban customers who enjoy far better connectivity.
More needs to be done to ensure that those living rurally are not disadvantaged by their locations – particularly as many services, including agricultural support, are now being moved exclusively online. “Although most farmers now own a mobile phone, many will not receive reliable coverage across the farm in order to make voice calls and send text messages.
This is particularly frustrating for the many landowners who have been extremely generous in supporting rental agreements for telecommunications masts to be erected on their land, but due to many of these rental contracts changing, the signal is actually getting worse.