With digital technology now playing a central role in people’s lives, landowners are increasingly finding that it is necessary to be proactive in addressing the problem of slow connections – to meet their own business needs and the expectations of commercial and residential tenants.

The Universal Services Obligation means that by 2020 everyone across the UK should have a right to a high-speed broadband connection, but it is unclear how network providers can deliver this within the proposed time-scale.

“Fast and reliable broadband and mobile connectivity is vital if rural estates are to have a healthy and vibrant future,” says Stuart Gray from the land management team at the St Albans office of Strutt & Parker. “It is an essential tool to run a business and to attract and retain tenants.

“Unfortunately, despite the government’s commitment to a Universal Service Obligation of a minimum download speed of 10 megabits per second throughout England, broadband speeds in many rural areas are likely to remain sub-standard. Additionally, the download speed specified by the USO may soon be seen as inadequate as our use of technology develops.

“In the past, the costs of installing a private broadband network may have looked unviable. But the importance now placed on good connectivity, with growing numbers of people working from home, means that attracting tenants is difficult without being able to offer a reliable broadband service.

“At a time when many businesses are looking forward to the year ahead and considering ways to improve performance and protect and enhance non-agricultural revenues, the time may be right to consider investment in super-fast broadband.

“Each of the options have their own pros and cons and not all may be available for a particular use or location. But the good news is that in most instances there are practical solutions to the problem, some of which may attract grant funding.”

Alternatives to mainstream connectivity include:

  • A leased fibre connection to the premises (FTTP) which involves installing a physical fibre connection from the mainstream network across private land.
  • Satellite broadband which operates by sending and receiving a signal to a satellite rather than using the underground copper/fibre network.
  • Over-the-air solutions such as Fixed Wireless Access networks which use specific frequencies of the radio spectrum to transmit signals.