Deal brings broadband 'step closer'

RURAL leaders have struck a deal they say will bring faster broadband speeds a step closer for the countryside.

The deal means not-for-profit and private companies looking to install infrastructure for community rural broadband networks can work with farmers and landowners.

Brokered by the National Farmers Union and the Country Land and Business Association, the agreement overs advisory wayleave payment rates and terms.

The two bodies say it will help the government in its aim to roll out superfast broadband to rural and remote areas where the business case for doing so has been weak or non-existent.

CLA President Harry Cotterell said: "The importance of good rural broadband cannot be over-emphasised.

"It is essential for business, whether starting up or expanding, essential for education and research and an important communication tool for all rural communities.

"We are confident this wayleaves package will help secure consent for a broadband infrastructure to be rolled out to the final third of the country who still suffer with chronically poor broadband."

NFU Vice President Adam Quinney said: "We know how increasingly important rural broadband connection is to farmers and those with diversified businesses.

"We very much hope that these wayleave agreements will help to deliver broadband to the rural areas which currently have poor, unreliable or non-existent broadband connection.

"Fast rural broadband is essential for our forward-thinking and dynamic farming industry."

The CLA and NFU agreement suggests payment rates that landowners can enter into with companies wishing to install a community broadband network.

There could also be circumstances where a landowner wishes to waive payment in return for their own high-speed broadband connection to the network.

Suggested rates and agreements aim help to cut down the time and cost of negotiating wayleaves, making it easier and more cost effective to get broadband infrastructure in place.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey descruibed the publication of the CLA and NFU rural wayleave agreement as great news.

"It will go a long way to making our roll-out of rural broadband cheaper and quicker by reducing the cost and time taken in negotiating individual land access agreements," he said.

The agreement also provide certainty to communications providers while ensuring landowners received appropriate compensation.

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