Unlocking value with rural broadband

Access to affordable and adequate broadband services is becoming increasingly important, as the digital component of national economies continues to grow. In this paper, we focus on the question as to how policy and strategy can be developed to enable efficient rollout of broadband services meeting the needs of rural areas, using the UK as an example. We focus primarily on fixed service developments, but note that similar issues apply in the mobile sector. We examine a range of government and regulatory approaches currently available, noting that multiple initiatives can lead to confusion, inefficiency, and delays, undermining key objectives. Whilst focus on fibre and 5G may be beneficial in the long run, value in the nearer term may be gained through the practical recognitions where: markets are far from homogeneous, not all end-users may require gigabit services, and not all solutions may be affordable. We suggest that a more coherent approach may be beneficial, with policy designed to align with national targets, yet remaining flexible enough to accommodate change and immediate market needs.