Wednesday, 04 October 2017 21:46

Focus on broadband reliability, not speed

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Focus on broadband reliability, not speed

RURAL broadband provision should focus on reliable connections rather than high speeds, says a report.

The study at Cambridge Judge Business School urges modest yet reliable mobile broadband connectivity, even if this entails a reduction of large headline speeds.

Consistency rather than unrealistic connectivity requirements is the key to bolster the digital economy and boost productivity – especially in rural areas, it says.

    See also: Top five rural broadband questions

Left to market forces alone, without government subsidy, about 10% of the population is unlikely to be served with 50 Mbps broadband by 2026, suggests the report.

This is due to “exponentially increasing costs” in low population density areas.

The report is called The cost, coverage and rollout implications of 5G infrastructure in Britain.

Consumers, particularly in rural areas, are unlikely to require such speeds to conduct most common tasks using the internet, believe the report's authors.


“Policymakers need to be cautious regarding large headline speeds in rural areas,” says the study published in the journal Telecommunications Policy.

“If these are desired politically, then financial support may be required.”

Rather than universal superfast broadband, the report suggests it may be more appropriate to focus on achieving near-ubiquitous coverage of a moderate level.

“We don’t need higher and higher headline speeds,” said Edward Oughton, research associate at the Centre for Risk Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School.


“But what we do need is reliable connectivity – to ensure we can reap the productivity benefits of new digital applications, platforms and services.”

Currently, UK indoor coverage of 4G technology reaches 72% of premises and outdoor coverage reaches 86% of premises, with 4% not covered by any operator.

But coverage, congestion and indoor effects make it difficult for users to achieve consistent connectivity.

“Mobile consumers are often unhappy with current levels of coverage, leading to both widespread media attention and political interest,” the study says.

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