The Countryside Alliance have welcomed yesterday’s announcement by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, that an extra £440 million will be invested by the Government to provide super-fast broadband for people living in “hard to reach areas.”.

 As a result of new contracts and efficiency savings the Secretary of State announced that the Government was in a position to invest more and that this would result in a further 600,000 extra homes and businesses in rural communities having access to super-fast broadband. The Secretary of State also stated that the Government hoped that 97 per cent of households will have access to super-fast broadband by 2020.

Responding to the Government announcement, Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance, Sarah Lee, said:

“We welcome the news that the Government will be committing a further £400 million to expanding super-fast broadband provision. Clearly its good news that this extra money will hopefully lead to an extra 600,000 people being connected to super-fast broadband by 2020.

“However, the proof will very much be in the pudding. Its vitally important that these eye catching numbers and the Government’s promises are translated into concrete results for people in rural communities who currently feel extremely let down by the poor provision of super-fast broadband in their communities.

“The Government’s commitment to connect 97 per cent of people by 2020 does raise questions about the final 3 per cent, the vast majority of these people will live within rural communities. As we live in a digital by default world we must connect 100% of the population and as the Government what their proposals are to close this digital divide.

“Last week’s Connected Nations Report 2016 by Ofcom showed that there are still 960,000 premises in rural areas that still aren’t able to access download speeds above 10 Mbit/s. Addressing this unacceptable imbalance in coverage should at the forefront of the Government’s digital agenda.”