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Pitchup.com demands better broadband for rural businesses

Jun 19 2014 Posted by Samantha Marsh

Gap between rural and urban speeds grows 119% since 2011

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Invest in faster broadband rather than high-speed trains

Outdoor accommodation specialist Pitchup.com is demanding better broadband for rural businesses rather than HS2.

The vast majority of UK campsites and parks are in rural areas, accounting for £2.5bn of domestic spend each year* and providing vital jobs and income. Connectivity directly affects commercial viability and Pitchup.com founder Dan Yates believes that around £1bn of public money for broadband is simply not enough compared to other infrastructure projects like HS2, which will cost £43bn**.

“With 62% of adults now owning a smartphone and nearly 30% of adults using a tablet to go online***, consumers are way ahead of our national infrastructure. They want to use the internet and mobile devices, but they’re hindered because of poor fixed-line and mobile connectivity,” said Yates.

According to Ofcom statistics, the gap between average rural and urban download speeds has grown by 119% between May 2011 and November 2013, from 9Mbps to 21Mbps****.

“The slow pace of broadband development in the UK, and specifically in the countryside, is a huge problem for our accommodation partners. Rural areas are increasingly being left behind as connectivity ramps up in towns and cities,” says Yates.

Mobile internet may not be an option, either, since 3G is not available for 22.9% of the UK’s land area, according to Ofcom*****.

“WiFi on holiday is now the top requirement for many customers. More needs to be done for rural broadband before the gap between UK urban and rural speeds widens and the UK falls even further behind other countries.”

Pitchup.com’s own statistics on campsites and parks with WiFi show the average rating for WiFi is 3.6 out of 10, based on more than 1,300 customer reviews.

WiFi is best in west Wales, at 4.6 out of 10, and poorest in the south east at 2.9 out of 5. The top county is Ceredigion with 4.5 out of 10, and the worst Hampshire, scoring only 1.6 out of 10.

A key problem, according to Yates, is the UK’s lack of full fibre optic broadband, with the UK failing to reach the podium of the leading nations with fibre-to-the-premises technology******.

“Not only is the roll out of fibre broadband happening too slowly, but the UK will remain in the slow lane because BT Infinity still relies on copper between the cabinet and the premises, whereas countries overseas are installing full fibre throughout,” said Yates.

“It is incredibly frustrating to see only £1bn of subsidy devoted to internet infrastructure when the proposed HS2 high-speed rail link will cost £43bn,” said Yates. “Better internet connections will boost Britain’s economy far more than a rail link that will mainly benefit big cities.”

“As the leading e-commerce nation in the world******, government should be doing everything in its power to capitalise upon the UK’s position in this booming sector.”

For more information visit www.pitchup.com

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* 2012 data. Source: GBTS

** Phase I and II costs, The Strategic Case for HS2, DfT 2013

*** Source: Ofcom (http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/2014/06/world-cup-2014-will-be-the-most-mobile-yet/)

**** Mean of upper and lower limit, average download speeds for fixed broadband connections. Source: Ofcom

(http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/other/telecoms-research/broadband-speeds/broadband-speeds-nov2013/)

**** Economies with the Highest Penetration of Fibre-to-the-Home/Building + LAN, December 2013 ranking, FTTH Council, Annual Report

***** Source: Ofcom (http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/other/telecoms-research/broadband-speeds/infrastructure-report-2013/)

****** The U.K.’s Internet economy (€175 billion) represents close to 10 percent of GDP - the highest of any nation - led by a strong e-commerce sector. Source: BCG (https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/digital_economy_telecommunications_greasing_wheels_internet_     economy/?chapter=4)

According to Ookla, the UK currently ranks 13th in the EU, behind Romania in first place and France in 10th (http://www.netindex.com/download/1,7/EU/)

Pitchup.com stats relate to 1,333 Pitchup.com reviews of holiday parks and campsites advertising WiFi, collected in May and June 2014. Any counties and regions with fewer than 20 reviews have been omitted.

Regions

Score/10

West Wales

4.6

Scotland

4.3

East Anglia

4.3

South West

3.8

North East

3.8

North West

3.6

North Wales

3.3

Central England

3.3

South Wales

2.9

South East

2.9

For media information

Cass Helstrip or Samantha Marsh at White Tiger PR

Cass.helstrip@whitetigerpr.com 07968 255464

Samantha.marsh@whitetigerpr.com 07711 265666

Notes to editors

Founded in 2009 by former lastminute.com man, Dan Yates, multi-award winning Pitchup.com is a free guide to all types of outdoor accommodation in the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Luxembourg, Austria, Poland and Switzerland.  Pitchup.com, which currently lists over 5,800 sites, provides users with a simple platform in which they can search and book an outdoor holiday with total ease: the customer experience from landing on the homepage through to booking a holiday can be completed in as little as four pages.  The site also goes beyond traditional searches by allowing users to search for accommodation based on more than 80 criteria, such as adults only and campfires allowed, and view nearby events, Good Pub Guide pubs and VisitBritain attractions.  It’s also possible to check out water bathing water quality in the surrounding area with data provided by the European Environment Agency.  Users can also search on the offers page to find the best deals available.

In 2013 Pitchup.com became the first business of its type to launch a bookable mobile app and site, making the site easily accessible to users of iPhones and other mobile and tablet devices.  The mobile site, m.pitchup.com, now accounts for 15% of bookings.

Pitchup.com enables users to search for all types of parks and sites from the major brands right through to one-off campsites and unique outdoor accommodation options, which may not have previously had a web presence.

Awards include Best UK Travel Website of the Year at the British Travel Press Awards 2011, and most recently best Travel / Leisure / Sports / Mobile Strategy / Campaign at the Marketing on Mobile Awards 2014.