A new report has listed the UK as number 35 in the world for broadband speeds, below France, Spain, and Madagascar. This sees the UK slip down a further four places since the rankings were last published in 2017, and has brought negative comparisons between the UK and the number 1 country on the list, Singapore.

However, Singapore is the equivalent size of London and is primarily urban, while in the UK 17.6% of the population lives in rural areas, complicating the comparison. Investment and leadership from both government and industry is required to drive further development of 5G and broadband and solve this challenge, and here at Zeetta Networks we are helping to do just that as a partner of the 5G RuralFirst project.

Nathan Sowatskey, Project Lead at Zeetta Networks for the 5G RuralFirst project, explained: “We’re excited here at Zeetta Networks to contribute our NetOS® network operating platform to these innovative and pioneering trials. Thanks to our ability to integrate our network slicing and splicing platform, we are perfectly positioned to help support the infrastructure needed to enable the growth of businesses and communities.”

A year-long trial funded by the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport, the 5G RuralFirst project is being led by Cisco in partnership with industry, government, academia and public sector organisations. Unique challenges pose technologies in rural areas, with sparsely populated areas, reduced infrastructure, and larger distances to be covered.

There are two fundamental issues faced by rural connectivity: the cost of infrastructure, and being able to use infrastructure to deploy services efficiently and flexibly. Reducing the cost of infrastructure includes new approaches to physical equipment and innovative use of radio spectrum. As part of our contribution to the 5G RuralFirst project we will be able to integrate heterogeneous radio access networks (RANs) by utilising our NetOS® platform to integrate, slice, and splice different network types in a common environment that provisions services with slicing. This can be integrated with Zeetta Networks’ support for optical networks, exemplified by our recent trial in collaboration with Vodafone.

Delivering higher quality of life for both individuals and organisations, the 5G RuralFirst project will be trialled live in Orkney, Shropshire, and Somerset. There are a number of use cases for these trials, ranging from broadcasting, automated agriculture, energy infrastructure maintenance, and digital economies that rely on connectivity.

The UK is building towards a future that will see autonomous farm vehicles improving agricultural productivity and remote vet inspections. On-demand technologies required for livestock, sensor based monitoring of crops, livestock, and environments, will empower new businesses based on these capabilities. Enabling these commercial operations to connect better with the digital world will enhance their ability to play on a world stage, and in turn, drive the UK’s value to other digital investment.

It is projects like this which will enable the UK to move back up the broadband speed tables – or at the very least, prevent further decline!

Get in touch with our team to learn more about this project, and how we are delivering networking solutions.