BROADBAND speeds in the countryside continue to languish behind those in larger towns and cities.
Rural broadband connections are three times slower than speeds in cities, according to the latest DEFRA bulletin.
In 2012, the average broadband speed in sparse rural hamlets and isolated dwellings was 4.4Mb per second compared with 14.8Mbps in less sparse urban areas.
Speeds vary because it is harder for network operators to recoup the fixed costs necessary for upgrading exchanges and cabinets in rural areas, said DEFRA.
Although decent broadband was increasingly important, lower population densities in the countryside meant there were fewer end subscribers.
Access to broadband can boost economic development, access to services and social activities, DEFRA said.
"Broadband is very important for the economic and social sustainability of rural communities."
A government programme to roll out broadband to rural areas meant average speeds would increase significantly, it added.
"By 2015 the government aims to deliver superfast broadband coverage to 90% of premises in each county area.
"Furthermore the aim, with regard to the final hard to reach 10% of areas, is that they will receive standard broadband of at least 2Mbps, but will be capable of upgrade to superfast in the future."
The full bulletin can be seen here.
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