Virgin and BT urban speed broadband battle is hurting the countryside, says CLA
The CLA said today that 'Speed Greed' - with Virgin and BT vying to sell super-fast broadband in the cities while virtually ignoring countryside coverage - is failing rural businesses and communities.
At a St George's Day event, the rural economy experts said broadband must be for all England – not just the conurbations, and that Virgin and BT's competition should be about providing fast broadband coverage across the nation, rather than just speed in built-up areas.
CLA Vice-President Harry Cotterell said: "The super-fast speeds being hyped by Virgin and BT will only benefit a small section of society – those who already enjoy fast connections.
"Speed Greed is creating the desire for ever faster connections, which will only be delivered in the cities. As a result rural Britain is being left behind."
Mr Cotterell demanded that the Government ensures the same level of broadband is available to everyone through a universal service obligation.
He said: "Government has a responsibility to consider the needs of all the citizens of the country.
"But, currently, while one child is watching high definition videos and conferencing with 'friends' all over the world, the child who sits next to him in class cannot even do the standard assignments set him as part of the national curriculum without travelling to another location in his spare time to use someone else's internet connection."
The CLA has been campaigning for affordable and effective broadband services for rural areas since 2002.
BT is now well aware of the importance of this technology as well as the frustration of those who cannot access an effective broadband service.
"Rural businesses are losing out because of poor internet connections," added Mr Cotterell.
"The bottom line is that businesses based in the countryside cannot compete with their urban counterparts, thus holding back the rural economy."
CLA Head of Rural Business Development Dr Charles Trotman said: "The CLA urges the Government to take action and follow where others are leading.
"US President Obama has announced that all of the United States will be broadband enabled and Australia recently announced similar plans.
"Both countries face projects of enormous scale owing to their large size and sparsely populated areas. Britain need not be left behind. Logistically, it should be a simpler task for a small, densely populated country such as this."
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Dr Charles Trotman
An economist, advises on rural economic issues, particularly food policy, rural tourism, equine issues and telecommunications policy.
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