The Country, Land and Business Association (CLA) has said
that it’s unlikely that the UK will have the best superfast broadband network
in Europe by its target date of 2015, as around 15-20% of people living in rural
areas are still unable to receive speeds of 2Mbps.
The CLA has been lobbying for better broadband in rural
areas for the past ten years and has today published a paper, Broadband
Fit for Rural Growth, which looks at the future of rural connections and "calls
for a strategic alliance with other rural interest groups to further influence
the rural broadband debate.”
"Although there have been some notable successes in the
10 years since the CLA started campaigning, there is still a huge amount to be
done to ensure coverage is universal,” CLA President Harry Cotterell said.
"We have set out our first-ever rural broadband policy
because we believe the Government must do more to help the countryside. By seeking
to form a strategic alliance with other rural interest groups to agree common
objectives, we can help to deliver a comprehensive broadband strategy."
He went on to say that the CLA are now asking the government to "step up and agree to a Universal Service Obligation
rather than just a Commitment”, this he says will ensure that the government
has no "get out clause” should they fail to achieve the 2015 benchmark, which
Cotterell described as "very unlikely”.
Cotterell also said that other technologies may be needed to be
used to bridge the "rural/urban digital divide” until such a time when a
fixed-line infrastructure is put into place, these could include Wi-Fi and
He added: "We do not believe Broadband Delivery UK's
bidding process is working. The system adopted by the Government is too
bureaucratic, which has discouraged many of the big market players from taking
part. Moreover, payments to providers must be performance-related to ensure a
fast and effective broadband service is rolled out to rural areas.”Rural
broadband would of course have a significant effect on businesses and personal
connections and could help improve the rural economy.