End digital inequality for rural areas by making legal right to fast broadband, says the CLA

18 April 2016

Every home and business owner must be given a legal right to fast, reliable and affordable broadband in order to tackle the digital inequality between urban and rural areas, the CLA has said.

In response to a Government consultation, the CLA has called for compensation to be given to all those who are denied this legal right. It has also underlined the importance of applying a mix of technologies to ensure that coverage reaches every home and business in rural areas.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport consultation, which sets out the first step in delivering on the Prime Minister’s pledge to implement a Universal Service Obligation (USO) of 10Mbps from 2020, closes today (18 April).

CLA President Ross Murray said: “People living and working in the countryside have been putting up with poor or non-existent broadband service for too long because connecting them can be harder and not as profitable for infrastructure providers. This has made their lives more difficult and has put their businesses at a disadvantage – poor broadband is one of the greatest barriers to growth in the rural economy.

“Currently only half of rural homes and businesses can receive broadband of 10Mbps versus 96 percent in urban areas. This is the greatest technical hurdle that rural Britain is currently facing.

“The Government’s commitment to putting in place a USO of 10Mbps from 2020 was a real win for rural people, but it will only be meaningful if fast, reliable and affordable broadband is made a legal right. If people are denied this legal right, they should have access to proportionate compensation.

“It would be very difficult to reach 100 percent of people and businesses, especially those in remote areas, through fibre technology alone. It is crucial that other broadband technologies are used as part of the mix to deliver the universal coverage that Government is seeking to achieve.”