4 biggest challenges facing rural broadband in 2024 – how is County Broadband leading the way?  

The last half of 2023 saw the UK maintain its momentum in developing its full fibre infrastructure, passing the 60% milestone for coverage across the nation.

As we strive towards the UK government’s goal of nationwide gigabit coverage by 2030, more and more rural premises need to be connected. This naturally involves its own set of challenges unique to hard-to-reach areas of the UK.

Be it the nature of the environment itself, land ownership contracts, or even just a lack of awareness of full fibre, we’re exploring the potential battles of delivering rural full fibre networks and how we can overcome them. 

This follows our recognition at the ISPA Awards in late 2023, where we were highly commended in the ‘Best Rural ISP’ category, a testament to our strategic planning and positive impacts on the communities we serve.

Wayleave challenges

Rural broadband
Image Credit: Cytonn Photography

Wayleaves form the very foundation of the full fibre network itself and without them, we wouldn’t be able to expand our rollout at all. For those unaware, a wayleave a is contractual agreement between a landowner/landlord and a broadband provider, like us, where they grant access to the respective land or property and allow us to continue build work.

However, it is all too common to run into issues when contacting these individuals, especially when they don’t live in the same village as the land in question or when they’re based overseas. No part of the build process can go ahead until we have direct approval from the landowner, a process that can take months, causing unavoidable delays and frustrations for everyone, not least ourselves.

Fortunately, we do all we can to minimise the disruption and keep momentum with the construction of our networks. We build our networks in a spider web-like manner meaning, if necessary, we can use neighbouring villages to bypass the wayleave issues and link back to the village in which we’re building. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The unpredictability of rural Britain

Image Credit: County Broadband

Unlike building in urban locations, rural broadband networks throw up unique obstacles that make the very task of laying down fibre cables less ideal than you would hope. At times, build teams must navigate hills, wooded regions, bodies of water, and unstable terrain, all while battling unpredictable weather patterns that can impact our progress.

Some residents are far more geographically isolated too, with examples like farms providing their own requirements to make the connection happen.

However, despite the route from the fibre cabinet to rural premises being more complex than more urban examples, we have two decades of experience finding strategic, bespoke solutions in installing rural broadband networks and will continue to do so in 2024.

Sharing the load 

Rural broadband
Image Credit: County Broadband

As we get construction underway, it’s important that we do everything in our power to minimise disruption. Some matters, however, remain out of our control.

As a provider of an essential utility, we must sometimes share the roads with those providing gas, electricity and water. This can result in their own emergencies – burst water pipes, electric faults and gas risks – taking precedence over our day-to-day work building rural broadband networks.

In rare cases, we can work alongside these teams but, in the majority of cases, we’re forced to request a new permit to carry out our work at a later date.

This impact is somewhat softened by our positive working relationships with local authorities and their on-site and off-site bodies, like Essex Highways. These links help keep our build work running smoothly by securing the necessary permits and updating us to when the roads will be ready and available for us to build our future-ready network.  

The best thing we can do in these situations? Be prepared and adapt if necessary.   

Knowledge is power

Rural broadband
Image Credit: Compare Fibre

If you’re living in a rural, hard-to-reach area, you’d be forgiven for thinking full fibre networks are only applicable to those living in built-up regions of the country. This is an issue in itself, and the greater we’re educated about full fibre and its benefits, the more likely the demand will be for networks in rural areas.

Compared to copper-based Superfast networks you’re likely familiar with, full fibre boasts speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps, 11x faster than Superfast, which can meet the heightening demands of modern technology all without risk of dropping connections.

Want to stream movies in 4K across three devices? Achieve maximum productivity from the home office? It’s all possible with full fibre and, as technology only becomes more ambitious, it’s crucial that your broadband has the speed and stability needed to move with the times.

No matter the challenges ahead, our team of experts are equipped with the experience and the know-how to overcome these obstacles and provide the crucial connectivity that your home and business deserve.

Whether you’re a resident or business, you can check if you’re covered in County Broadband’s rural broadband rollout by entering your postcode at www.countybroadband.co.uk where you can also register your interest in finding out more about the infrastructure and service.