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Rural businesses across the South East could benefit from a slice of the additional £45m government funding that’s now available to speed-up their broadband connections.
The money will be channelled through local authorities via the Rural Payments Agency’s Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme.
It increases the total rural broadband funding from the government to £75m. This additional investment follows the launch of the government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review which outlines plans to prioritise hard-to-reach areas for the roll-out of full fibre connectivity.
The money will be made available to local authorities that have already applied for funding in areas where broadband services at speeds of 30Mbps – or faster – are not yet available.
Gary Jowett, from Computer & Network Consultants in Brighton, said: “The latest rural funding is good news for farms, remote industrial estates and shops in rural communities that have been deprived of good connections for so long. But remember, if this encourages you to consider moving to a new rural location, it’s wise to check carefully what the future plans for broadband are. It should be the first thing on your checklist before making such a move as digital connectivity is now a very important component of all businesses’ back-office and sales operations.”
If there are no apparent plans for better broadband in your locality then you should seek the support of the CBI, FSB and other influential organisations to avoid being overlooked.
It’s also worth thinking creatively about local businesses you can collaborate with to present a stronger case for faster connections.
Say you have an antiques business, or a car dealership in a remote village. You’re desperate to have your voice heard about better broadband but there are no similar businesses nearby. And yet, just up the road, there’s a dairy farmer who wants to expand into cheese and yoghurt production. Having a much faster broadband connection is essential for his future business partners and potential customers. You could become allies, presenting a unified voice.
You can also make your local authority more aware about your broadband speeds. West Sussex County Council, for example, invites you to check if superfast broadband services are available in your area or are planned for the future.
And there’s always the possibility of being part of a community fibre partnership where government, communication providers and businesses work together to improve connectivity. Some of the additional money from government will no doubt help to support more community fibre partnerships.
Gary said: “There’s no doubt that the increasing demand for faster broadband will help to ensure rural communities don’t get left behind. And if fibre in the ground still won’t reach your business, it’s worthwhile investigating other options which are fast emerging, such as faster wireless connectivity using 4G and 5G, that could connect your business park or village to the main fibre network.”