Meeting Michael Gove: Role of DEFRA for Rural Broadband

Thursday 17th August 2017 brought the wonders of the Chagford Show! It was Airband’s first time there and we were ready to go with our brand new gazebo and excited team.

We’d heard through the grapevine that Michael Gove was attending the show and that he had requested to come and visit our stand to discuss the Airband projects and how our technology works in bringing broadband to rural villages and empowering communities.

During the 15 minute chat with Mr Gove, we talked about Airband as a whole, how we have grown, the service we provide and the new, innovative technologies we are currently testing. It was great to see that the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had a genuine interest and good level of knowledge of our business and of the importance of getting fast internet to the rural areas of Devon and Somerset. He was particularly interested in the technology we use and how it differs from other broadband providers, reaching those who have previously had to manage on often less than 1Mbps, as part of the Connecting Devon and Somerset scheme, and how the project with the local Councils is working to bring superfast broadband to several parishes and villages.

Situated on Dartmoor, Chagford is a beautiful setting and an ideal case in point for demonstrating some of the challenges we have faced with the terrain and landscape whilst rolling out our network. We explained about the technology we use, that it is unobtrusive, and how we take particular care to ensure that we consider nature, aesthetics and the environment as much as we can when choosing locations for transmitters, and that we have in majority used wooden poles and existing structures to further minimise the impact. This consideration is aided largely by the close relationship we have with Local Councils and the National Trust to ensure that we meet with all planning regulations and that the needs of the surroundings are taken into account.

The show itself was a lovely day and we got the chance to speak to lots of people about Airband broadband, fixed wireless technology and how we work to reach rural villages. It is always lovely to meet our existing customers and hear that they are pleased with the service they receive too! We were joined on our stand by Get up to Speed who are a funded support service to help people make the most of current or future faster broadband throughout the whole of Devon and Somerset, with free workshops, meetings and events offered to all. 

Tasked with overall responsibility for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove’s specific responsibilities include the Oversight of EU exit work and the overall policy programme, international relations, emergencies and departmental administration. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs are responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy. Their broad remit means they play a major role in people’s day-to-day life, from the food we eat and the air we breathe, to the water we drink.

Whilst the delivery of superfast broadband is the responsibility of Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and is actually part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, sustaining and developing the rural economy in the UK is the role of DEFRA. Like many rural areas, DEFRA are also aware that rural businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on fast, reliable internet connectivity to conduct day-to-day business, diversify and grow.

Airband are so proud to be a part of the bigger rural picture driving homes and businesses towards a prosperous economy.


The installation engineers were efficient, competent and polite and we had the internet up and running immediately.

- Julie and Mark Thomas, Herefordshire