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CLA says rural communities want better broadband for Christmas

Thursday, December 22nd 2011 by Paul France
Rural businesses 'demand faster broadband'

Rural businesses and residents are desperate for improved broadband access, a campaign group has said.

Reliable broadband connectivity is at the top of the Christmas wish list for rural communities and businesses, according to the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

President of the rural campaign group Harry Cotterell acknowledged the government is investing millions of pounds in boosting broadband access across the country, but claimed progress is not being made quickly enough.

His remarks echo recent comments from the Countryside Alliance, which revealed work is still not underway on broadband projects in Cumbria, Herefordshire, North Yorkshire and the Highlands and Islands, despite these areas being named by the government as pilot sites for super-fast services more than a year ago.

Furthermore, Ofcom figures show up to 20 per cent of rural communities still have to cope without effective and reliable broadband access.

The digital divide between urban centres and the countryside is now growing at an "alarming rate", causing problems for landowners and farmers, Mr Cotterell said.

He added: "Rural communities without a reliable connection are suffering too - they can't access key online facilities such as tax returns and bill payments, and children can't use the internet for homework."

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