Farmers still missing out on mobile signal

Farmers are still struggling to get reliable mobile phone coverage and access to internet services, a new survey of NFU members has found.

One year on from the NFU’s first farmer-focused mobile phone and broadband survey, it’s been revealed that 85% of those asked have unreliable mobile signals across their farms, despite more smartphone users having access to 4G coverage.

The survey also found that a serious lack of broadband coverage continues to exist. Only 6% of respondents had access superfast download speeds

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said that the government must wake up and make the roll-out of superfast broadband to all farms a priority, alongside complete mobile phone coverage.

“More than ever farmers need to use digital technologies to help farm more efficiently and fully utilise emerging digital technology such as robotics and GPS. Yet no signal for mobile phone voice or text and a severe lack of broadband coverage is creating a real barrier for those farm businesses and putting them at a disadvantage.

“The ever-growing digital divide between urban and rural workplaces needs to be bridged. Government should recognise that, internationally, the UK is trailing behind other countries, putting our farmers at a competitive disadvantage. That’s why we are calling on government to adopt a much more ambitious approach to finding ways to get fast broadband to those areas that need it most.

“This will mean ensuring there is necessary regulation in place and a competitive rural market. It is also essential to lay the foundations for an effective 5G network – universal coverage, with safe, fast and efficient systems that farmers can access to provide food and rural based services for domestic and international markets, while maintaining the countryside we all cherish, work in and visit.”

The NFU surveyed more than 800 members in 2015 and again in 2016. The NFU is lobbying for fast, affordable and reliable broadband and mobile phone coverage for farmers, growers and their rural communities.

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.