Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes: Today saw a front page article in the Daily Telegraph about Government failings on connecting the ‘final 5%’ to superfast broadband and 4G . In a story entitled: “Ministers halt automatic broadband roll-out for rural families because ‘not everyone wants to be connected,'” Christopher Hope reported: ‘Instead fast broadband will only be provided in rural areas on request.’
We have worked tirelessly for many years now to bridge any kind of “town vs country” divide, and the casually metropolitan sentiment expressed in this document indicates why we still have an uphill struggle.
BT announced yesterday that it is putting £6bn into broadband roll-out, which we welcome, but pledging roll-out to just 95% of the UK doesn’t go far enough and ignores that vital ‘final 5%.’. Thousands of families and businesses are at a distinct disadvantage without super-fast broadband, and as our Head of Policy Sarah Lee told the Telegraph: ‘The whole point of a universal service obligation is that it applies to everyone, and this one was suggested specifically to ensure that the most rural, hard-to-reach properties will enjoy workable broadband speeds. High speed broadband is an essential service for modern life and we believe a lack of broadband capacity in rural areas is holding back the countryside, socially and economically.’
My predecessor always said that he got better broadband in Basra than Dorset, and with Tim Peake seemingly able to email, broadcast and phone from space, it is clear to us that the final 5% should have access to full service without having to make any special requests. No special treatment is necessary, just equality.
Follow Tim on Twitter @CA_TimB.