by Sarah Lee

A new report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has today highlighted the continuing digital divide between urban and rural areas. The Report highlights how the lack of digital connectivity continues to marginalise rural communities, the Government has not fully grasped the extent of the problem and the Universal Service Obligation is inadequate and lacks ambition for rural areas.

The Countryside Alliance believes that high speed broadband and mobile connectivity is an essential service alongside water, electricity and gas; and must be treated as such. Slow speeds are a barrier to growth and the lack of connectivity is leading to increased isolation and social exclusion. Fundamentally, digital connectivity should be available to all, no matter where they live.

The Countryside Alliance gave evidence to the Efra Committee and shares many of these concerns. We believe that the Government must focus on removing the barriers to delivery, impose rural coverage obligations to deliver mobile connectivity in rural areas and ensure that there is a clear funding strategy that will deliver the ambition of the new Prime Minister to deliver universal full-fibre broadband by 2025.

Head of Policy, Sarah Lee said  ‘Delivering superfast broadband and improved mobile phone coverage is a top priority for the Government, business and communities yet, it is held back by red tape, bureaucracy and poor guidance. If we are to improve digital connectivity then we need to remove and reduce the barriers holding this connectivity back.

‘At a time when Britain is leaving the EU we must ensure Britain is globally competitive in the post-Brexit world, and this will not be the case unless we invest in better digital connectivity that is fit for purpose, responsive to user needs and future proofed in line with the best available technology.’

To read the full report click here.

To read our response click here.

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