CLA regional director calls for better rural broadband header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The CLA's region director for eastern England is the latest figure to stress the need for better broadband in the UK's rural areas. 

Speaking at the East Anglian Rural Broadband and Digital Summit in Newmarket last week, Nicola Currie said the organisation has been campaigning for better connectivity in the countryside since 2002, but has often been frustrated by a lack of progress.

She warned that unless services are improved, rural businesses and communities will fall behind those in the rest of the UK and abroad, Cambridge News reports.

Ms Currie said that despite more than £1 billion of public money being spent on rolling out better broadband, there is a still a clear gap between those areas that have a good level of connectivity and those that do not.

"This gap is hitting the rural economy hard. Rolling out speeds of two Mbps isn't going to cut the mustard, times are moving faster than the broadband rollout - speeds have to be increased to least ten Mbps and if we don't get on it with it, that figure will soon be 20 Mbps," she stated.

Ms Currie claimed the modern IT world is designed to work around high-speed internet and will struggle to function in areas where it is absent.

She said rural residents are "sick of being left behind" due to a lack of connectivity and cited recent research from Rightmove that revealed slow broadband can take a fifth off house prices as further evidence of the damage this causes. 

Ms Currie is not the first figure to call for internet access in rural areas to be improved and is unlikely to be the last. One way people living in the countryside can improve their connectivity is through satellite broadband, which is perfect for rural areas due to its availability and ease of installation. 

The subject of rural broadband was addressed in a report presented to MPs by Digital Business First, Digital Policy Alliance and the European Internet Foundation on Monday (March 24th). It called for the government to create a new broadband plan to unlock the benefits of the web and avoid the UK falling behind economically.