Mobile Connectivity – Great Expectations
Emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic will come with great expectations for mobile connectivity to have come on in leaps and bounds during our enforced isolation. After all, every second ad on TV seems to be a proud promise of the best network coverage and limitless 5G mobile devices. Seven of the 34 UK 5G testbeds and trials address rural connectivity. Through our work on the Mobile Access North Yorkshire project, Flo-culture are one of many digital communications companies doing their part to ensure the ever-present rural/urban digital divide is minimised.
We Are All Shifting Back to Mobile Broadband
Over the last year, much of our working, learning, and entertaining has been done virtually. And with tight controls on people’s movement, it has largely been done through our home fixed broadband networks. As restrictions have gradually started to ease, so our mobility has gradually started to increase.
After a year of staying entertained with lag-free gaming and buffer-free streaming, we will expect the same seamless experience we have enjoyed at home when we travel. We are returning in droves to our mobile networks with much higher demands than when we left. For example, those of us who previously downloaded content before travelling, to enjoy on the road, will have new expectations that live streaming will now simply work wherever and whenever we go. The trip down memory lane to mobile “not-spots” and patchy service will not provide us with a fond sense of nostalgia, more the gnawing return of our old friends: irritation and frustration.
Mobile Coverage is a Must for Rural Tourism’s Recovery
Rural tourist destinations already heavily relied on the domestic tourism and day-trips market before the COVID pandemic, and estimates are that these markets will recover up to two years faster than international travel, or the hotel business will. That is a heck of a head start in any race. But only if attractions, and the surrounding communities, have the best available mobile connectivity in place. Being connected is now a tacit expectation from customers and a lack of connectivity can be a serious obstacle for businesses. There will be no second chance for recovery in its absence once the “big boys” catch up.
So, as we look forward to a surge in domestic tourism, we are rightly excited about the provision of outdoor 5G coverage to some of our most popular tourist landmarks, historical sites, and coastal locations. Once reopened, visitors will enjoy the increased capacity and faster speeds of 5G in 75% of the top 20 UK towns and cities for domestic tourism. While rural areas are often underdeveloped and marginalised when compared to their urban neighbours, the progress we already see in the DCMS 5G Rural Connected Communities projects gives us hope that this won’t be the case when it comes to robust reliable connectivity.