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Government investment in rural broadband falls short, says CLA

[Tuesday 12 January 2010]

Responding to Lord Mandelson's announcement that Government is to provide £1 billion of investment into next generation access broadband, Douglas Chalmers, Director CLA North, said:

"Clearly we welcome the acknowledgement that, without direct public sector investment, those in rural areas will again be the losers, but they still only aim for 90% coverage. If this is to be our best effort, will the remaining 10% ever be brought into the modern world?

“A partial solution may actually make things worse. If society believes there is no longer a problem, communications designed for high speed connections will become the norm. Already, too many people struggle when faced with vital web-based services such as tax returns and job applications. Rural communities and businesses are excluded by other people’s superior technology.

“Government should adopt the Prime Minister's own view that broadband is a vital public utility. The ‘universal service commitment’ must become a legally enforceable universal service obligation to provide two megabits per second by 2012 otherwise, the digital divide may simply move, and it will certainly get wider.”

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