Gigaclear leads rural revolution in ultrafast broadband

Access to ultrafast broadband can have a transformational effect on farms across the UK. Its benefits are now recognised by the Government which has put subsidies in place to help rural internet providers accelerate the roll-out of this service. Gareth Williams, Chief Executive Officer at Gigaclear, which has been leading the Rural Revolution to connect communities and farmland to ultrafast, full-fibre broadband for almost ten years, offers his insight into the challenges and benefits of installing the service in rural Britain.

Getting to the most rural properties

The new Prime Minister’s commitment to a full-fibre roll-out by 2025 underpins the importance of future-proofing the country’s infrastructure to facilitate growth both now and for generations to come. Existing programmes, such as the Building Digital UK subsidy (BDUK), help companies like Gigaclear build to rural areas that other providers have discounted due to the investment required.

However, lack of adequate subsidy remains a challenge for rural network providers. At Gigaclear, we believe that landowners and farmers, who are essential to providing and sustaining Britain’s food-chain and are a vital part of our economy, should be connected as a priority. The Government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to accelerate deployment and change the face of rural England by making a serious, sustainable investment towards the build costs of this network and mitigate against the need for higher monthly fees. Gigaclear provides ultrafast broadband in rural areas

One other challenge, and one that British farmers can help with, is that of obtaining wayleaves from landowners. These wayleaves dramatically reduce the cost and increase the speed of building by allowing providers to cross landowners’ fields to connect rural businesses and communities. Of course, once these wayleaves have been signed, it is essential that providers like us work with landowners to prevent potential losses to crop yield or the disruption of livestock during the building process.

The benefits of ultra-fast broadband

Despite the challenges faced by rural network providers, ultrafast broadband can offer a significant lifeline to rural businesses, opening opportunities for diversification and the ability to compete in online markets.

This diversification may take the form of online booking and ordering systems, accountancy and banking software, or even the potential to open holiday lets on the estate.

Access to new technology can also allow farms to innovate and become more efficient. For instance, huge efficiencies can be generated using ‘Big Data’, capturing data from several sources to make key decisions about planting, harvesting, field irrigation levels, fertiliser applications and pest control. This reduces the physical manpower needed which makes such processes much quicker as well as lowering costs.

In addition, the use of wifi security products can help farms protect their property, livestock and equipment.