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Rural communities cannot be left to rely on mobile broadband services, even when 4G networks are rolled out nationwide, it has been claimed.

In a new report, Analysys Mason has highlighted the importance of fixed broadband networks, particularly as data consumption continues to increase.

The consultancy has concerns about the ability of 3G and 4G networks to cope with user demands, particularly in areas where there is no viable fixed-line alternative.

A spokesperson for the firm said it is important that operators and policymakers pay attention to expected traffic levels as well as headline access speeds when they assess the viability of replacing legacy copper with long-term evolution technology in less profitable areas.

"Rural customers are not the same as people that elect to take a mobile broadband service as a replacement for a fixed one," the representative noted.

"There is no reason why rural users would want to consume less than their urban counterparts."

The spokesperson explained that mobile broadband speeds are directly related to the number of users on the network.

Doubling the capacity on mobile networks can mean near-doubling of costs, particularly if it means new site acquisitions, they added.

"Next-generation fixed networks are initially more expensive to roll out, but doubling capacity to any next-generation access (NGA) network is relatively inexpensive," the spokesperson stated.

"The stronger the fixed traffic growth, the stronger the case for fixed networks in the final-third NGA mix, or, alternatively, the stronger the case for more radical approaches to spectrum."

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