UK operator VMO2 says building out ‘excellent’ digital connectivity in rural areas will generate lots of cash and jobs, particularly for manufacturing.

Andrew Wooden

November 22, 2023

2 Min Read
rural connectivity

Drafting in the Cebr for some economic modelling and Opinium for survey muscle, the operator says improving rural connectivity could boost the UK economy by £65.1 billion and increase employment by 6.8%. Of the four major economic sectors analysed manufacturing could expect to receive the greatest benefit with turnover boosted by 7%, generating £8.8 billion to the economy.

The release says many factories are located away from cities and urban areas, and that ‘recent output data shows the sector has been struggling due to the UK’s persistent productivity challenge’, with the majority of manufacturers saying they expect economic conditions in the UK to either significantly or moderately deteriorate.

Technology has the answer to some of this, claims VMO2, such as enabling automation to reduce human error and machine failure, or introducing wearable technology that improves safety and effectiveness. These require high-quality connectivity we’re told, which is ‘something that’s historically not been as available in rural areas.’

Around one in six rural manufacturing business decision makers surveyed said they would make greater use of technologies such as remote stock checking, inventory management and fleet management technology, but these must be underpinned by connectivity that allows teams to access inventory and fleet management data in real-time in order to act on these insights and optimise their operations.

“The manufacturing industry is key to the success of the UK economy, and our Great Rural Revival report demonstrates that improved connectivity can unlock an additional £8.8 billion of further growth for rural manufacturing, as well as increasing employment by almost 8%,” said Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2.

“The last decade has seen fixed and mobile networks rolled out to new corners of the UK and we are committed to continuing this rollout. By working closely with industry partners, the UK Government, planning authorities and landowners, we can deliver the essential network upgrades that will enable rural manufacturers to adopt new technologies and continue to thrive.”

The research is all tied to the Shared Rural Network and comes escorted with statements about how committed to rural connectivity VMO2 are, but the underlying point that improving connectivity will have all sorts of benefits to an individual business and by extension the economy as a whole is of course a position that underpins the much of the telco industry’s sales pitch to the world.


About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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