The Countryside Alliance welcomes a £10m project outlined by the Government today (15 January) that will fund innovative ways to improve broadband speeds in remote rural areas. The “competitive fund”, which was first announced in the chancellor’s Autumn statement last December, will open in early 2014 and be used to test broadband solutions aimed specifically those members of the population who live and work in the most difficult to reach parts of the UK.
The Government has pledged that 95 per cent of the UK will be connected to superfast broadband by 2017. The new fund aims to help the final 5% not currently part of the £1.1bn national programme.
The Countryside Alliance has long believed that a range of technologies, such as mobile, satellite and wi-fi connections, should be used to deliver broadband to those remote areas that fibre optic provision is unlikely to reach.
Sir Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance said: “Broadband connectivity is as important to those people as a connection to gas, water and electricity. Businesses and every part of our lives are becoming more reliant on the internet and rural people need to get connected.
“We hope this fund will ensure the roll-out of broadband happens as swiftly as possible, so as to ensure the digital divide does not grow any wider and enable rural communities to compete economically and socially with their urban counterparts.”