The rollout of superfast broadband to rural communities should be speeded up through a new deal brokered between countryside interest groups and Openreach.
A national fixed line broadband wayleave agreement and Memorandum of Understanding has been negotiated between the technology provider, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the Country Land and Business Association.
It is designed to make it easier for Openreach to reach agreements with landowners over locations and payment rates for cables and other electronic communications kit.
The agreement comes into effect next Monday.
Kim Mears, managing director for strategic infrastructure development at Openreach, said: “We know that some people are still waiting for decent broadband, and we’re keen to help the Government and Ofcom finish the job. This is a great step towards achieving that.”
NFU vice president Stuart Roberts said: “The NFU and CLA have worked closely together to provide the means to enable landowners to easily reach an agreement with Openreach, bringing much-needed, effective broadband to rural areas.
“Statistics from the NFU show that a considerable amount of farmers do not have access to superfast broadband and in an increasingly digital world, it is crucial that our digital communications are fit for purpose. This initiative marks another step forward to ensuring our members have all they need to establish and maintain productive, profitable and progressive farming businesses.”
And CLA deputy president Mark Bridgeman added: “Landowners are a committed and crucial part of the solution to alleviate the rural-urban digital divide. It has taken almost 18 months of hard negotiation but we have secured an agreement that satisfies the Government, the infrastructure providers and our members.
“We have shown, through constructive dialogue across the industry, that rollout is not driven by price alone. A proportionate increase in the annual wayleave payment, coupled with clear documentation and an effective Memorandum of Understanding, will hasten the rollout of fixed line broadband beyond what is achievable by the revised Electronic Communications Code alone.
“A robust and effective national framework has been created which brings much needed clarity and stability to the market while at the same time injecting more money into the rural economy through accelerated deployment.”