The Countryside Alliance welcomes Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2015 report released today (1 December) which shows that the reach of broadband, both fixed and mobile, continued to increase across the UK over the past year.

But while we welcome the increased connectivity across the UK, it is clear that rural areas are still lagging behind.

Coverage for superfast broadband has increased significantly in the past 12 months  – from 22% in 2014 to 37% this year, reaching over 1.1 million premises.

However, around 2.4 million homes and small businesses in the UK are still unable to receive broadband speeds above 10Mbit/s, with 48% of these premises in rural areas.

This is coupled with poor levels of mobile coverage in rural areas, which continue to be lower than in urban areas. Only 31% of rural premises receive an indoor voice service compared to 91% in urban areas.

Sarah Lee, head of policy for the Countryside Alliance, said: “Industry, government and the regulator need to work together to close this digital divide if we want our rural communities and businesses to be able to engage in a digital world.

“While the Government’s BDUK project is helping to address the problem of poor broadband coverage, particularly in rural areas, we still need further intervention to ensure that everyone has access to broadband which is why we support the government proposal for a Universal Service Obligation.”