Fibre is the key to productivity for rural businesses

Achieving seamless connectivity has been a longstanding bottleneck for productivity for businesses operating in rural areas throughout the UK

Now more than ever, we’re seeing modern society demand a strong digital presence across any business. Not only to meet the needs of stakeholders, staff and end-customers, but to maintain continuity when unexpected events occur. Without a robust network infrastructure in place, companies in these remote areas risk not being able to keep up with the pace of business today, let alone that of tomorrow. 

With the reliance on connectivity growing ever stronger, we’ve seen a number of initiatives arrive to support local businesses on their quest for fast and secure broadband over the last few years. For example, the soon-ending Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme run by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has offered grants to support individual SMEs and even communities with the costs of installing Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). This type of initiative is proving essential for the delivery of full fibre broadband in remote areas,  enabling smarter working and greater business continuity. 

Implemented correctly, this level of fibre connectivity has the ability to help rural businesses eliminate previously unreliable broadband networks, with increased productivity, security and resilience at the very heart of these efforts. Companies that have previously struggled to remain connected due to their geo-location have the power to assess their current approach to connectivity and utilise modern fibre networks to keep operating effectively, both now and in the future. But what are the key considerations for rural businesses wanting to unlock a full fibre future?

Assessing the barriers to entry

It goes without saying that most rural businesses will meet challenges head on when trying to assess and improve their connectivity infrastructure. Recent research found that amongst respondents in rural areas, 37% of them rated their connectivity connection as very poor to poor, with 25% rating the reliability of the connectivity as their main concern. 

One of the main barriers to rural connectivity is very much a geographical issue. The location of these areas often prove too difficult due to reasons such as planning permission causing issues within national parks or in areas where land is protected. What’s more, if the location is considered to be too remote, some might argue  that the cost of the equipment required and amount of labour it would take to construct a fibre network would be too high and therefore deliver a relatively low return on investment. 

As a result, budgets that are available within these rural areas are not always big enough to cover all costs. This is where initiatives like the Government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme have offered businesses critical support with  grants to cover the installation of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP).

Despite the barriers these non-urban areas face, it is important that rural businesses still have the opportunity to access the same fibre connectivity as those in urban locations. Let’s look close at some of the key advantages.  

Benefits of a fibre-centric boost

By deploying fast fibre broadband at scale, businesses will be able to optimise its outputs as well as maintain business continuity and resilience. With this level of connectivity, rural businesses can also innovate faster, deliver services through channels that were previously inaccessible and ultimately boost the local economy. By providing a vital lifeline,  fibre technology simply allows these organisations to remain competitive amongst their counterparts in today’s business landscape. 

For the most part, home workers tend to account for  a large portion of employees in rural areas. This creates  high demand for seamless broadband which enables people to work from home with no interruptions. By laying the fibre foundations these workers can thrive with ‘city-grade’ connectivity, as fibre expands its reach deeper into even the most rural areas across the nation. 

As we look ahead to a smarter future, a fibre network can open up huge opportunities for businesses based outside of the UK’s urban areas. Take the example of managing a large farming estate – sporting many acres, buildings and livestock. A fibre-enabled site could simplify this process for its owners, with the ability to run a host of smart devices across their land to measure all aspects of their operation in real time and notify staff as soon as any issues arise. Not only will this aid efficiency for manual sites, it can also drive safety and resilience as we move towards a digital-first society. 

Implementing this type of initiative will also prove vital for the future of residential housing in these areas. With access to an established fibre cabling infrastructure, developers can future proof new homes with the level of broadband now needed to power a smart and connected home, making these buildings fully adaptable as technology rapidly evolves. 

With the need and expectations of connectivity continuing to grow amongst rural communities, we must commit to helping these areas utilise the performance and reliability that fibre allows. With ongoing support, it is only a matter of time before rural businesses are able to reach their full potential in a digital age. Through this commitment, we can look forward to a future full of connectivity – regardless of your place on the map. 


About the Author

Richard Jeffares is CTO of Glide. Glide is known across the UK for innovative utilities, connectivity, and communication services. Individually, we serve UK businesses, students and accommodation owners to connect to high-speed broadband, quality utilities and original solutions. Find out more: www.glidegroup.co.uk

Featured image: ©James Thew

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