Superfast Broadband for Rural Areas Unlikely by 2015

News Article - Monday, 24 September 2012 09:30

By: Kerry Butters Category: Connectivity

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 satellite.

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.

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