Unlocking the digital potential of rural areas across the UK

Brian Wilson, J Atterton, Jane Hart, Mike Spencer, SG Thomson

Research output: Book/Report/Policy Brief/Technical BriefResearch report

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Unlocking the digital potential of the UK’s rural areas is important for rural businesses, for the future of rural communities and for the productivity of the UK economy as a whole.

The digital economy has clear potential to address certain inherent issues with rural geographies. Businesses can, for example, gain online access to wider markets and services, thus helping to improve their competitive position. However, to date, relatively little has been written about digital adoption by rural-based businesses in the UK.

So far most of the rural digital debate has centred on the issue of access to infrastructure: specifically, connectivity to broadband and mobile networks. What that debate has diverted attention from is questions about the take-up and use of digital technology, applications and services by businesses located in (the majority of) rural areas, where there is now reasonable infrastructure.

Research approach

The objectives of this research were: to better understand the rural digital economy as it currently stands (including business connectivity, use of digital devices and adoption of digital applications); to consider the benefits that accrue; to identify any key constraints to digital take-up; to assess the monetary digital potential within the rural economy; and to recommend actions that would help unlock that potential.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyAmazon
Number of pages94
Publication statusPrint publication - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

This report should be cited as: Wilson, B., Atterton, J., Hart, J., Spencer, M., & Thomson, SG. (2018). Unlocking the digital potential of rural areas across the UK. Amazon commissioned research report by Rural England and SRUC.


  • digital
  • broadband
  • broadband policy
  • rural broadband
  • connectivity
  • rural business
  • rural economy
  • community


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