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September 24, 2012

UK’s target to provide universal broadband coverage by 2015 unlikely to be met: CLA

15-20% of people in rural areas still do not have sufficient broadband services

By CBR Staff Writer

UK’s Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has called for the government make a legally binding commitment to provide adequate access to the broadband services in the rural areas in the country, saying the target to provide universal coverage by 2015 is unlikely to be met.

In its latest Rural Broadband Fit for Rural Growth report, CLA has warned that the economic development in rural areas is being risked due to failures to offer sufficient internet access.

CLA President Harry Cotterell said broadband acts as an economic driver for rural businesses as well as helping the social development of rural communities.

"But between 15 and 20 percent of those who live in rural areas are still unable to receive anywhere near the Government’s benchmark of two Megabits per second (Mbps)," Cotterell said.

"Although there have been some notable successes in the 10 years since the CLA started campaigning, there is still a huge amount to be done to ensure coverage is universal.

"By seeking to form a strategic alliance with other rural interest groups to agree common objectives, we can help to deliver a comprehensive broadband strategy."

The report also said that the government is improbable to achieve its aim to offer universal network coverage by 2015.

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CLA’s policy also calls on the government to offer a suitable framework that enables rural communities to "piggy-back" onto public sector broadband services.

"Until a fixed-line broadband infrastructure is put in place, other technologies must be used to bridge the rural/urban digital divide," Cotterell said.

"The CLA advocates a "patchwork-quilt" model whereby other technologies, such as wi-fi and satellite become widely available and used. But the Government must create the right conditions for this happen."

The association had earlier asked local authorities to assure that contracts awarded to infrastructure providers comprise reasonable compensation provisions for any failure, further meeting time and coverage needs.

CLA is also seeking that operators must be legally obliged to offer coverage, yet in remote areas, in addition to allow isolated communities to use public sector networks.

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