RSA says urban broadband funding is 'bizarre' header image

Published: 27th Aug 2014

The Rural Shops Alliance (RSA) has criticised the government's decision to provide funding to improve business broadband in rural areas. 

Through the Urban Broadband Fund, the coalition will allow companies in the UK's largest cities to apply for financial support to improve their connectivity. 

However, the RSA has suggested this money would be better spent on the hundreds of thousands of rural businesses who currently have to get by with very slow and unreliable internet services.

Kenneth Parsons of the organisation stated: "It seems bizarre for the government to be subsidising businesses which already have the potential to access super-fast broadband, whereas swathes of the country still have no idea if and when they are going to be upgraded to a decent speed."

He said it is not uncommon for rural companies to be relying on connections with speeds of just 0.3 Mbps and suggested solving this problem should be the government's top priority.

The importance of rural broadband has recently been discussed by Mike Allen, chairman of the parish council in the Staffordshire village of Haughton.

He told the Staffordshire Newsletter there is strong demand for better connectivity in the village, with some residents only able to access speeds of 0.5 Mbps.

Mr Allen said that while rural people had previously come to accept slow broadband as a fact of life in the countryside, times have now changed and it has "become a necessity more than a luxury".

He said he understands why people in urban areas want faster internet, but "it is just as important that we have this in rural communities".

The subject of rural broadband in the UK remains a controversial one, with the government's scheme to bring super-fast connections to at least 90 per cent of the country regularly criticised.

Those communities not included in the project will only be guaranteed minimum speeds of two Mbps, meaning they may be better off pursuing alternative options such as satellite broadband.