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Osborne: Better broadband and mobile coverage can help rural areas thrive

Thursday, August 20th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Investing in broadband and mobile networks will help create “the right conditions for rural communities and businesses to thrive”, according to chancellor George Osborne.

Mr Osborne was speaking as the government set out a 10-point plan to boost productivity in rural areas.

The plan acknowledges the need for “extensive, fast and reliable” broadband and for better mobile coverage in Britain’s more remote locations.

It points to the government’s ongoing commitment to deliver superfast broadband to 95% of UK premises by 2017 and says further decisions on the rollout will be made in November’s spending review.

The government announced last week that its rollout had passed 3m homes and businesses.

It is also investing in a number of pilot projects aimed at delivering superfast access to the final 5% through a £10m innovation fund.

The Rural Productivity Plan says the option of satellite broadband will help provide universal access to standard broadband of at least 2Mbps by the end of this year.

This technology will be capable of providing superfast speeds for those who want them.

The plan says the government will also work closely with mobile network operators to improve rural coverage in the UK.

'Unleashing the full potential'

It already has in place a legally-binding agreement with O2, Three, EE and Vodafone to make sure 90% of the UK’s landmass has voice and text coverage by 2017.

And planning rules are set to be relaxed to allow for the building of taller mobile masts in a bid to improve signal across the country.

The chancellor said: “For too long the British economy has been reliant on businesses based in our cities and towns.

“We want to create a One Nation economy that taps into the potential of all parts of our country.

“That means setting the right conditions for rural communities and businesses to thrive, investing in education and skills, improving rural infrastructure, and allowing rural villages to thrive and grow.”

Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss added: “Our rural areas could be generating billions more for the UK and providing many thousands of new jobs – this plan will make that a reality, unleashing the full potential of our countryside to create a true One Nation economy.

“We’re connecting the countryside to make it just as simple to run a business from Cornwall as it is in Camden.

“Our plan will help us create thriving towns and villages where generations of families can open and expand their businesses, buy a home and educate their children at first class schools.”

Picture courtesy of M Holland.

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