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nfu national farmers union

The vast majority of farmers still cannot receive a decent broadband service, a trade body has warned.

According to a survey by the NFU, only six per cent of farmers can access superfast download speeds.

Figures also revealed that 85 per cent of farmers have an unreliable outdoor mobile phone signal, while 82 per cent say their indoor mobile phone signal is prone to failure.

The NFU has therefore called for more to be done to ensure farmers, growers and rural communities have "fast, affordable and reliable broadband and mobile phone coverage".

Guy Smith, Vice-President of the body, commented: "More than ever farmers need to use digital technologies to help farm more efficiently and fully utilise emerging digital technology such as robotics and GPS.

"Yet no signal for mobile phone voice or text and a severe lack of broadband coverage is creating a real barrier for those farm businesses and putting them at a disadvantage."

Mr Smith urged ministers to be much more ambitious when it comes to deploying fast broadband in areas "that need it most".

This, he stated, means ensuring there is adequate regulation in place and a competitive rural market. 

Mr Smith added that it is essential to lay the foundations for an effective 5G network that offers universal coverage and safe, fast and efficient systems.

The NFU's warnings come after the British Chambers of Commerce urged Ofcom to do more to support business broadband customers in rural areas.

According to figures from the organisation, 29 per cent of firms across the UK have unreliable mobile internet connections.

However, the figure stands at 54 per cent in the countryside.

Similarly, 91 per cent of rural businesses said they experience mobile not-spots, areas without any mobile coverage, or partial not-spots, where there is some coverage but only from a few networks, in their location. 

This compares with 56 per cent of those in inner cities.

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