Responding to the news today that the Government has announced a £50 million funding package for households in Devon and Somerset, Norfolk and Wiltshire to gain access to super fast broadband in the latest phase of the scheme to connect rural homes and businesses, the leading voice of rural Britain, the Countryside Alliance has welcomed the new funding but warned that similar promises in the past have not been met.
Sarah Lee, Head of Policy for the Countryside Alliance said: “We welcome this new funding package for the roll out of rural broadband services but these promises need to be met with visible action.
“Competitive roll out of broadband services is essential if the current problems of high prices and poor service in rural areas are to be overcome. The Coalition Government has committed that every UK citizen has access to a broadband service capable of connection speeds of at least 2 Mbps by 2015, this will only be achieved in rural areas through competition of fixed and wireless technology.
“It is vital that rural communities and businesses have access to effective and affordable broadband if the digital divide is not to grow even wider and rural economies are to grow and prosper. Super fast broadband will aid small businesses, service providers and the educational needs of rural communities and it is good that the Coalition Government recognises this pressing concern.
The Countryside Alliance has been a leading voice on the campaign for pushing out rural broadband nationwide, bringing together MPs from across the political spectrum.
In a Backbench Business debate on 19th May, Wrexham Labour MP, Ian Lucas, said
“There is, of course, a lot of common ground in this debate. We all believe in the importance of a broadband network. The Countryside Alliance has presented evidence that a broadband network is essential to the viability of a living countryside. Development in communications is a massive opportunity for the countryside, provided that a viable broadband network is constructed.”