Last week I worked on 5G RuralFirst from my friend’s place up in rural Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire. Leading up to my wedding, Karelle (my new wife) and my pals, Pat and Tash, had a lot to do to prepare part of the ruined Sherriff Hutton Castle into a registered wedding venue, and probably the coolest and newest hot spot in the UK to get married.
During the week, I dialled into Stephen Speirs 5G RuralFirst “business model” call. The conversation inevitably turned towards the business “layer cake” necessary to justify investing in broadband within remote rural areas. Jim from SoilEssentials informed us that most farms are not a single business. “In fact”, Jim said, “most farmers are likely to be running several businesses from their properties.”
I looked out the window onto the farm and castle ruins, and this critical insight slapped me right in the face. My pals were running a sheep and cattle business, an arable crop business, a Christmas tree business (pause for breath…), a premium event locations business, a maintenance business, a tourism business, a holiday home business, a child minding business, and as I sat there, they were actively working up a plan with my son to launch a small production line manufacturing high end lamps made from upcycled farm consumables.
Pat and Tash are fortunate enough to have good household broadband, but suffer from patchy 4G depending on the service provider. Good enough for some of their businesses but less than great for those that bring customers into the area from outside.
Whilst a lack of phone coverage ensured our vows were made with the uninterrupted solemnity they deserved, it would not be great for future wedding guests having travelled from far and wide to spend a day or more at the event and in the surrounding area to be incommunicado.
And as I considered the impact of coverage for my friend’s businesses, the knock on effect of poor connectivity to the wider community also hit home. I think there is a snowball effect here, and the first crystalline structure to appear is often coverage.
The 5G layer cake of incremental use cases and revenue driven by residents, potential visitors to a community and connected machines and things is a complex one.
We are just building momentum on this important strand of 5G RuralFirst: to gather the data, to understand the costs, and to project the possibilities and revenue upsides necessary to invest in radios within rural areas.
If every rural area has entrepreneurs like my buddies (and I think they probably do…), then I’m guessing we will make the case for 5G RuralFirst in the time it takes for Karelle and I to pack our case for our honeymoon.