One of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s first pledges as he entered 10 Downing Street was to restate the Government’s commitment to levelling up.
It’s a policy statement that has been bandied about so much over the past few years but, in truth, we’re still unsure quite what it means and how it will be achieved.
Many see it as being about investment in transport infrastructure – projects like HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail that address the outdated and inadequate rail network that leaves Yorkshire and the North disadvantaged and disconnected.
But levelling up isn’t just about closing the gulf between the South and North. It’s also about addressing disparities between urban and rural areas.
We know all about this. At Quickline Communications we’re totally focused on bringing fast, reliable broadband to deep rural communities – our mission is to reach places other internet service providers leave behind.
We’re delivering life-changing broadband access and speeds to isolated communities across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
In fact, we’ve provided no less than 2,000 rural communities with fast and reliable connectivity in the past year alone, through our market-leading hybrid network, combining fibre and 5G fixed wireless broadband.
But too many households and businesses in outlying areas remain under-served, while those in many urban areas are spoiled for choice.
This inequality in broadband provision means many rural places have no rapid or reliable internet access, severely impacting these communities and leaving them left behind economically, educationally and socially.
We believe passionately that people shouldn’t be disadvantaged by choosing to live in the countryside
As well as the levelling up pledge, Mr Sunak has committed to delivering the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto. That includes rolling out gigabit-capable broadband to a minimum of 85% of all UK homes by 2025 and spending £5bn of public monies to connect the hardest to reach areas.
It’s a laudable objective, but the approach needs to change if the Government’s ambitions are to be realised and rural communities are to be accelerated out of the internet slow lane.
So far government funding for broadband infrastructure has been slow to flow and focused almost exclusively on full fibre broadband. That has meant most broadband providers have targeted their activity in cities and towns, where fibre is much cheaper to deploy than in truly remote areas that are the in desperate need of improved connectivity.
This has resulted in a major issue of “overbuild”, where multiple providers have developed competing fibre networks in the same urban areas, while many rural places are overlooked.
At Quickline we believe there is a powerful case for a new approach to connect more communities, faster and at significantly reduced cost to taxpayers at this time when the public finances are under such pressure.
With a new Prime Minister in place, we say now is the time to re-focus broadband investment on truly rural areas, to deliver on both the connectivity and levelling up commitments.
We’re also urging the Government to embrace a wider range of technologies, including 5G fixed wireless. These solutions deliver game-changing broadband speeds and performance, but at a fraction of the huge cost of digging hundreds of miles of trenches for fibre cables.
We believe passionately that people shouldn’t be disadvantaged by choosing to live in the countryside and deserve to have the same internet experience as those living in large towns and cities.
That’s why we’re focused on deep rural areas and why we’re so committed to bringing fast and reliable broadband to these left-behind communities.
We’re committed to providing people with a high-quality internet experience, however that is delivered
It’s also why we’ve adopted an “outside in” approach to tackling connectivity deficits. We start with the most remote communities that are the hardest to reach, and therefore the most poorly served, and work our way in from there.
We deploy full fibre broadband where appropriate and affordable. However, in many areas the sums simply doesn’t add up.
Rather than dig in fibre cables between far flung premises, these places can be connected much quicker and at significantly reduced cost by providing a wireless solution via 5G from masts.
We’re committed to providing people with a high-quality internet experience, however that is delivered. After all, our customers don’t care what technology we use, they’re just delighted to be lifted out of the digital dark ages!
Technology has moved on since the Government made its broadband manifesto pledge in 2019 and we like to think we’re at the very forefront of innovation in the industry.
The idea that gigabit-capable speeds can only be delivered by full fibre is outdated. The 5G wireless technologies we use are now delivering transformational internet experiences and ever-increasing speeds.
By connecting deep rural communities, we’re tackling the digital divide in access to the Internet and making our own contribution to levelling up.
Hopefully our new PM and his ministerial colleagues recognise this contribution and the opportunity they have to level up rural areas and give people in these places the digital life they deserve.