Broadband upgrade and better mobile coverage will give economic power to rural areas, says CLA
The CLA today (27 July) said rural businesses and communities will at last start to benefit from effective broadband services following BT's announcement to upgrade copper networks and a proposed increase in mobile phone coverage for rural areas.
CLA President William Worsley said: "The necessary copper upgrade of exchanges to provide access of at least two Megabits per second (Mbps) will give economic power to rural areas. However, we are still concerned that at least 10 percent of rural areas may never have access to fixed line broadband and this is where the Government's promised funding for rural broadband should be targeted.
"Too many areas across the UK have very limited access to mobile telephony. Extending better mobile phone coverage to rural areas is as important as ensuring effective broadband for businesses to compete fairly with their urban counterparts and to prevent communities from being socially disadvantaged."
He added: "We are worried that 4G (Fourth Generation) mobile coverage, expected to be available in 2013/14, may not cover rural areas so we fully support the view of the Ofcom's Consumer Panel calling for all rural areas to be given 4G first."
Mr Worsley said that for CLA members who could access broadband services, most had complained of unfairly advertised broadband speeds.
He said: "It is clear this issue will not go away unless internet service providers are forced to provide clear information on the speed that will actually be received. If a customer does not get that advertised speed, the cost of the service should be reduced."
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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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