The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Rural Services Network Urges Action on 4G Connectivity Challenges in Rural Areas

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee's recent publication has raised serious concerns about the UK's ability to meet its 2025 target of extending 4G coverage to 95% of the country. This alarming development is particularly troubling for rural communities, which have long been underserved in terms of digital infrastructure.

The Committee's Findings

The Committee's report underscores the growing disparity in digital connectivity between urban and rural areas. Despite significant advancements in urban centres, rural regions continue to face substantial challenges in accessing reliable mobile and broadband services. The transition from 3G to 4G—and eventually to 5G—remains sluggish in these areas, further exacerbating the digital divide.

RSN Response

The RSN has long advocated for better connectivity in rural areas, which are often left behind in infrastructure developments, including broadband and mobile services. The shift from 3G to 4G—and eventually to 5G—poses a significant challenge for rural areas, where coverage continues to lag significantly behind urban centres.

The potential failure to meet this target will have a profound impact on rural businesses and communities. Rural areas are already facing significant disadvantages due to inadequate digital infrastructure, impacting everything from business operations, access to education, access to health and care services as well as personal communications. The continued lack of connectivity in these areas hinders economic growth, contributes to the rural-urban divide, and isolates communities, affecting the country's overall development and cohesion.

As rural areas are progressively cut off from 3G services, without a corresponding increase in 4G coverage, we risk seeing an exacerbation of these challenges. It is critical that the government reassess its strategies and investment commitments to ensure that the digital divide does not widen further. The RSN believes that achieving comprehensive digital connectivity is essential for equitable economic development and the well-being of all residents, regardless of their postal code.

We urge policymakers to consider the unique challenges that rural and remote areas face and to implement targeted measures that will address these longstanding issues. The RSN is committed to working alongside the government and other stakeholders to advocate for and help implement solutions that ensure no rural area is left behind in our increasingly digital world.


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