by Sarah Lee

The Countryside Alliance has submitted evidence to the DCMS consultation on improving broadband for hard to reach areas. We made the point that a successful rural economy is vital for maintaining a living and working countryside and as we move into a digital age the rural economy is becoming more reliant on digital connectivity. It is therefore essential that the people who live and work in the countryside are able to engage fully in the economic life of the country and that means connecting everyone, even the hard to reach places.
COVID-19 has once again highlighted the disparity in broadband connectivity across the country as the networks have struggled to keep up with unprecedented demand which has seen millions of Britons suffering as a result of poor connectivity and outages. We saw a 62 per cent rise in outages in April 2020 and a third of people surveyed had experienced internet issues during lockdown. This impacts everyone from those trying to home school to homeworkers supporting the economy. 
We surveyed our membership and 70% of you were concerned that slow speeds are a barrier to growth, the lack of connectivity was leading to increased isolation and social exclusion, and that fibre connectivity should be available to all, no matter where they live.
The Government is hugely ambitious for a digital Britain, an ambition we support. At a time when we have just left the EU we must ensure Britain is globally competitive, 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. Fundamentally, we should all be digitally connected, no matter where we live. 
You can read our submission here.

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