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Rural areas ‘stuck in technological dark ages’
4:59pm Monday 14th October 2013 in News
POCKETS of the rural south west are locked in the technological Dark Ages – and look set to remain there due to failure in broadband delivery, according to the Country Land Business Association (CLA).
It says the recent report on rural broadband delivery by the House of Commons’ public accounts select committee highlights the fact that the process has been shrouded in secrecy and has adopted a delivery mechanism that will fail to deliver broadband to 10 per cent of properties – predominantly rural properties.
The CLA says this is due in part to the lack of real competition in the selection of broadband providers.
CLA south west director, John Mortimer, said in some cases BT and local authorities are hiding behind the confidentiality and commercial sensitivity clauses that the department of communities and local government allowed to be put in place – meaning that broadband providers, other than BT, cannot even begin to put together alternative proposals because they cannot find out where the so-called ‘not spots’ are.
Mr Mortimer said: “For more than 10 years, the CLA has been campaigning on the need for comprehensive, affordable and effective broadband throughout the countryside – and our efforts have met with major success which will ensure that 90 per cent of premises throughout the country will eventually have access to superfast broadband – even though the delivery programme has fallen well behind schedule.
“But if 90 per cent of our citizens are to benefit from a subsidised broadband infrastructure, what possible justification is there for the remaining 10 per cent to be disadvantaged – particularly as pretty much all of that 10 per cent is going to fall on rural areas?
“The report by this influential select committee backs our long-held view that the system put in place by the DCMS will fail those communities and it will fail to meet the 2015 roll-out programme set by the government.”
Now south west members of the CLA are calling for more transparency plus clear and detailed information about the so called ‘not-spots’ so that plans can be put in place to plug the gaps.
Mr Mortimer added: “We appreciate that the solutions to delivering to the last 10 per cent may not all be the same – but all deserve the same level of government support if the whole of the country is truly to enter the digital age.” The CLA also says it is not only superfast broadband that is a problem – because basic mobile phone coverage is equally vital and remains a major issue for many individuals and businesses operating in the rural economy.
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