Thursday, 04 February 2016 12:06

Rural areas 'need better broadband'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural areas 'need better broadband'

A new report into broadband access shows the "dire" level of availability in rural areas, says Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.

The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP said urgent action should be taken to improve poor availability of broadband in the countryside.

It follows the release of the first report from the British Infrastructure Group of MPs, which examines broadband coverage.

    See also: Faster broadband to become legal right

Called "Broadbad", the document shows that Mr Farron's Lake District constituency has among the slowest broadband speeds in the country.

With an average download speed of just 14.7Mbps, it is 628th out of 650 constituencies when ranked in terms of average speeds.

Over 55% of broadband connections in the constituency are under 10 Mbps.

Ofcom, the regulatory body responsible for the telecoms sector, believe that a download speed of 10Mbit/s is the minimum necessary for an "acceptable user experience".

According to the report, "48% of rural connections do not meet this minimum speed leaving ordinary people and businesses lagging behind the rest of the country."

The report concludes that "poor internet connections are costing the UK economy up to £11 billion per year."

Mr Farron said: "This report confirms what local people already know - broadband access in our area is simply not good enough.

"It is critical both for residents and businesses that access to decent broadband is extended to rural areas.

"Unfortunately, the scale of the problem is not matched by the scale of the government's ambition.

"In urban areas the government is busy improving superfast and ultrafast broadband access, yet in rural areas there has only been a commitment to providing speeds of 10Mbps by 2020.

"While that would be a welcome improvement on our current service, the reality is that in the modern day that is simply not enough.

"The government must support the rural economy by providing decent broadband access to all."

The government recently announced a new scheme offering subsidised satellite broadband to rural customers on slow connections.

The scheme was launched during December by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Prime minister David Cameron has also pledged that everyone will have a legal right to request a 10Mbps broadband speed by 2020.

Mr Cameron said the government was putting access to fast broadband on similar footing as other basic services.

The government would help ensure every home and business had access to fast broadband by the end of this Parliament, he said.

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