Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

Staying connected in rural locations

02/09/19Staying connected in rural locations

The importance of infrastructure in rural locations should not be underestimated. In an era where we all use smartphones and digital is the way forward, connectivity and convenience are everything. But if cities are digital hubs, where free Wi-Fi and superfast broadband are increasingly becoming the norm, the same cannot be said for the countryside.

Infrastructure in rural locations is inconsistent to say the least – patchy at best and non-existent at worst. It used to be the case that if you lived in a property that was at altitude and received the old analogue TV signal, your reception would be superb. The same isn’t true of something like a phone signal, where the more remote the location – during a hillside country hike, for example – often the less likely you are to have a phone signal. This is also the case for many rural residents, who have found themselves left off the digital map. The cost and time it takes to install rural broadband, for example, has resulted in it taking considerably longer than expected to ensure everyone receives the same service. This is not ideal, as modern life is bound inexorably to digital tech – not just for phones, but streamed television and internet services.

This is also the era of remote working, with more and more people working from home when they can. In a home office environment, you can easily have the same productivity and connectivity as being in a work environment, providing the infrastructure is in place. Property development opportunities in the countryside have involved farm outbuildings or farmland becoming developed for business or manufacturing use. Land and property owners have converted redundant outbuildings into offices, manufacturing or retail outlets, or erected units to create small to medium sized industrial estates. These have attracted new businesses to rural areas, proving a much-needed boost to the communities, but for these to thrive, there must be more investment in infrastructure itself, to ensure that they can remain competitive with those who are better-connected. It’s actually become such an important issue that an area’s connectivity, its phone reception and broadband speed, could end up affecting house prices, as buyers demand the same quality of digital life as their urban contemporaries.

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