Businesses in rural areas are being put at risk because of the lack of broadband access and the government isn't helping the situation.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says up to a fifth of people in rural areas still do not have adequate broadband services and the government is unlikely to meet its goal of providing universal broadband coverage by 2015.
In a new CLA policy paper "Broadband Fit for Rural Growth" to mark their ten years of campaigning for faster rural broadband, the CLA has calculated that currently, between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of those who live in rural areas are unable to receive anywhere near the Government's stated benchmark of two Mbps.
The CLA President Harry Cotterell maintains that to ensure that Britain has the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, it needs to "step up and agree to a Universal Service Obligation rather than just a Commitment. There is no legal sanction behind a Universal Service Commitment - it provides the Government with a get-out clause if the benchmark is not achieved, and it is very unlikely it will be achieved by 2015."
Broadband divide between town and country
Additionally the CLA is concerned that the Government 2010 commitment to ensure 2Mbps universal broadband coverage while creating super-fast broadband areas of 24Mbs in cities will create a broadband divide. With the potential that high-tech businesses will abandon the country altogether. The report states that "It is accepted that many rural businesses currently do not need speeds associated with superfast broadband to operate efficiently. Of course, this will change in the future and this is why it is essential that any broadband network is proofed against future developments in business."
Are you part of the rural have-nots? We'd like to hear your views about the broadband divide and what providers have promised your business.