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RSN praised for raising coverage of connectivity issues

The Rural Services Network has received a letter from the Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman MP, praising the organisation for its work sharing the Government Consultation on Improving Consultation for Very Hard to Reach Premises

Rural Digital Connectivity is a key issue for the RSN, and forms part of the Revitalising Rural campaign with a number of asks of Government which you can view here.

Some 7% of rural premises (or 274,000 households and businesses) in England cannot access a fixed broadband connection of 10 Mbps.  This is the threshold set for the broadband USO, which the regulator considers neccesary for everyday use, though it is likely to prove inadequate for many business or home working users.

The Rural Services Network hosted a special meeting earlier this year on the consultation with member organisations, attended by a senior representative from DCMS to explain the consultaion and the approach from Government.

The letter from the Minister stated:

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support in helping to share the call for evidence amongst your membership and stakeholders. Without your help we would not have been able to reach as many people as we did. This will help to ensure that our policy decisions are built upon information provided by the communities and stakeholders that are most affected, and that you have helped to represent.

The RSN will continue to work as the national champion for rural services, ensuring that those in rural areas have a voice.

Read the full text of the letter below:

Dear Mr Biggs

Now that our call for evidence on “Improving Connectivity for Very Hard to Reach Premises” has closed I wanted to write and thank you and your organisation for taking the time to respond and for your continued engagement and support thus far. Your submission will help us to better understand the current barriers that exist to delivering better connectivity in these areas, as well as the technology availability, maturing, capabilities and costs that we need to consider as we look to address these challenges.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support in helping to share the call for evidence amongst your membership and stakeholders. Without your help we would not have been able to reach as many people as we did. This will help to ensure that our policy decisions are built upon information provided by the communities and stakeholders that are most affected, and that you have helped to represent.

Although both industry and the government can be proud of the excellent work that they have carried out so far to enable over 40% of the UK to access a gigabit capable broadband solution - we know that there is more to do. While we remain on course to deliver gigabit capable broadband to at least 85% of premises in the UK by 2025, work must continue to ensure that no community is left behind in our quest to level up the country.

The government is committed to making the UK a global leader in digital connectivity, ensuring that reliable, long-lasting gigabit-capable connections are made widely available across the UK. With your help, we are a step closer to providing rural and remote communities with good digital connectivity ensuring they can thrive in an increasingly connected world.
But we know this isn’t going to happen overnight. Following the closure of the call for evidence officials will begin to analyse the response that will inform our policy proposals. As we stated in the call for evidence, at this stage nothing is off the table. However, we want to ensure that decisions about improved broadband are made on the best available evidence both from the UK and abroad.

As a result of the call for evidence, we have been able to gather evidence from a wide range of interested parties. You may be interested to know that:

  • We received over 2,500 responses from consumers and businesses
  • The highest response rates were from areas which have some of the most rural and remote areas including South West England, North East England and Scotland.
  • Over 300 organisations representing communities in rural and remote areas responded including 149 local authorities covering communities across the UK.
  • A total of 43 market participants, including many network operators and suppliers, responded either through the online survey or by providing a long form response.

Over the coming months we will continue to keep you updated with our progress via the call for evidence website: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/improving-broadband-for-very-hard-to-reach-premises

Best wishes

Matt Warman MP
Minister for Digital Infrastructure

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