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Broadband and mobile phone coverage in rural areas needs to improve much faster, the NFU has insisted.

The organisation is currently carrying out a survey to gauge farmers' views on the issue across the UK, which will be published later this month.

However, the NFU has said preliminary figures indicate nothing has changed a great deal since a similar survey was carried out last year, Farmers Weekly reports.

Suzanne Clear, Senior Adviser for Planning and Rural Affairs, commented: "The results suggest that the broadband issue is widespread.

"It can affect farmers just as much on the edge of a settlement as it can in more isolated areas.”

Ministers have pledged to implement a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) that ensures everyone in Britain has a legal right to request minimum speeds of 10Mbps by 2020.

However, Ms Clear said the proposed target USO is unambitious and not enough to cope with the growing usage of agri-technology in the farming sector.

"The EU has set a new target for all European households to get a minimum internet download speed of 100Mbps-plus by 2025, with businesses and the public sector being told to expect 1Gbps-plus,” she commented.

"Our farmers are still getting a poor broadband deal. We need broadband that keeps farm businesses competitive."

According to the latest figures from the NFU, only four per cent of farmers have access to superfast broadband, while 70 per cent do not have 4G mobile phone coverage.

Prime minister Theresa May has acknowledged the issue recently, telling the Conservative Party conference it is "not right" that half of the people living in the countryside, along with many small businesses, cannot get a "decent" broadband connection.

She therefore insisted that the government must be "prepared to intervene" if the market is "dysfunctional".

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