CLA reaction to government cash boost for rural broadband

22 December 2016

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has today announced extra funding to help up to 600,000 homes and businesses get superfast broadband under the Government's flagship rollout scheme.

CLA Rural Business Adviser Dr Charles Trotman said: “The announcement of £292million of additional investment in rural broadband shows that the delivery programme continues to work as intended. It is entirely right that BT Group, which is providing the additional cash, recycles money from the windfalls received from the programme back into the scheme. BT Group is both the main recipient of public money, provided to BT Openreach to fund the roll out of infrastructure, and is also the main commercial provider of internet services to homes and businesses once they are connected. So it is vital the Group is tightly regulated.

“The next two years are crucial in cementing the end of the digital divide that continues to hold back the rural economy from fulfilling its potential. The legal imposition of a universal service obligation, as provided for in the Digital Economy Bill, can ensure that every home and business owner will no longer have to accept substandard connections.

“It is also essential for government and industry to embrace the range of technologies that could be used to deliver the best possible connections to tackle the final 5% of the most remote and difficult to connect homes. Providing communities with a voice and stake in how they are connected will be crucial to ensuring the right investments are made in this area. The CLA will be working with the Government to ensure the mechanics of this are put in place so that rural areas can overcome barriers to connectivity.”

Click here to read the Government’s announcement on broadband funding.

Click here to read the CLA’s Rural Business 2030 paper on connectivity and investing for change.