Saturday, November 26, 2022

Rural broadband and mobile coverage ‘not good enough’

NEIL Hamilton, Leader of UKIP Wales and AM for Mid & West Wales, is backing calls for improved broadband and mobile coverage for farmers.

Mr Hamilton, Party Spokesman for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, is urging the Welsh Government to listen to pleas by NFU Cymru, for better connectivity in rural areas.

Mr Hamilton, who continually raises poor broadband speeds and mobile signals for his constituents in Mid & West Wales, in the Senedd, said: “I am very concerned at the results of the NFU Cymru Survey.

“It is staggering to learn that almost half the farmers questioned did not believe they received sufficient broadband for the needs of their business, whilst nearly 40% felt the same about a mobile signal which means they have difficulty keeping in touch whilst out and about on their farms.

“In a world which relies heavily on connectivity, this is simply not good enough and it is time the Welsh Government took some meaningful action.

“I have constantly called for better connectivity for rural communities so that everyone can enjoy decent broadband speeds. It is still not happening and farmers, in particular, are being let down and held back from maximising their business opportunities.

“This is unacceptable and I will continue to push Welsh Government to take action.” In the 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.

Neil Hamilton AM

“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.

“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.”

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