Published: 5th Dec 2014
The quality of broadband in the UK's rural areas has once again been criticised.
This time, the CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, has hit out at the lack of connectivity in the countryside while giving evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, which is currently undertaking an inquiry on the issue.
Speaking to the committee on Wednesday (December 3rd), the organisation's president Henry Robinson stated: "The CLA was the first organisation to recognise the importance of broadband to the countryside more than ten years ago.
"The fact that inquiries like this are still taking place, demonstrates that progress has been slower than a dial-up internet connection."
"Ensuring universal access to a modern broadband connection is vital to ending the economic disadvantage faced by rural areas," he added.
Mr Robinson questioned the government's decision to limit farmers' applications for funding through the Rural Payments Agency to online-only from January onwards. He said the CLA is concerned that many farmers will not have the necessary level of internet access to apply for the much-needed funding.
The CLA leader also called for training and support to be given to the 12,000 rural businesses across the country that are currently struggling to get online.
Mr Robinson suggested the committee should recommend the introduction of a universal service obligation of at least ten Mbps for broadband. He also highlighted satellite broadband as an ideal means of delivering improved internet access to the final five per cent of hard-to-reach areas.
The CLA president is not the first to recognise the potential of satellite in improving rural connectivity.
Chris Townsend, chief executive of the government's Broadband Delivery UK project, recently told Cable.co.uk he sees satellite as essential for boosting internet access in rural areas across the country.
He said that by making use of all the broadband technologies available, the ultimate aim of getting as close to 100 per cent super-fast coverage as possible could potentially be achieved.
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