Poor broadband putting people off relocating to countryside


Millions of city dwellers are put off relocating to the countryside because of concerns over bad broadband and mobile phone reception, while large portions of those already living in rural areas experience these issues to such an extent they regret moving there.

Despite Ofcom reporting that almost all of the country should be able to access superfast connections, millions of Brits are staying put in the city because of concerns over poor rural broadband and mobile coverage, new research from uSwitch.com reveals.

More than 13 million city dwellers would like to live in the countryside in the future – but for the 15 million (37%) who wouldn’t, more than half (58%) are put off by the thought of poor broadband connections and patchy phone signal.

Although Ofcom claims that 93% of the country can already access superfast broadband services, four in 10  rural residents suffer from a slow or unreliable connection. And when it comes to using a mobile at home, a third (34%) say their calls regularly cut out, while a quarter (25%) say they can’t make any at all.

In total, more than one million Brits – a tenth of all those currently living in the countryside – say they would never have moved there had they known how poor rural connectivity is.

Ernest Doku, broadband and mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, comments: “It’s ludicrous that in 2018 broadband and mobile phone signal is a factor influencing where in the UK people choose to live.

“In recent years there have been massive strides made in the rollout of superfast services and mobile reception provision, so it’s hard to imagine why so many people continue to struggle along on a service that doesn’t meet their needs.

“Pretty much everyone in both the city and the country should be able to access excellent broadband and mobile coverage, so those experiencing poor connectivity need to be made more aware of the range of better options available to them.

  • Nine million Brits (17%) won’t move to the countryside through fear of being cut off by poor broadband
  • Bad broadband and phone reception are widely considered major drawbacks to rural living, behind only poor transport links
  • A quarter (25%) of rural residents say they cannot make mobile calls at home while four in 10 (38%) suffer from a slow or unreliable broadband connection
  • More than one million remorseful homeowners living in the country say they would never have moved had they known how poor the connectivity was
  • uSwitch.com calls on providers to improve customer awareness of the best speeds and deals available to them, with industry claims of widespread national coverage clearly not matching consumers’ experience.

“The only explanation is that providers have been guilty of a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality – simply assuming that their work is done as soon as they have provided the infrastructure for faster services and not doing enough to make sure that their customers are aware that better services are available.

“Whether you live in the city or the country, good connectivity is something everyone relies on and should expect. It certainly shouldn’t be allowed to deter anyone from relocating to their next home – wherever that may be.”

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Digital Minister, comments:

“These Teletext Tories are simply failing to provide the investment we need to rollout high speed broadband in areas that are harder to reach.

“This has not been helped by the fact we’ve seen four different culture secretaries in just two years and now we’re lagging behind our European neighbours.

“The Tories seem determined to leave Britain as a cyber slow coach.”

Issues with living in the countryside

Rural living concern

% of people concerned

Poor transport links


Slow or unreliable broadband connections


Poor or no mobile signal


Lack of public services (eg doctor surgeries, schools etc)


Lack of activities available (eg cinemas, restaurants etc)




Chris Price
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