Report criticises rural broadband efforts

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A new report has been release today (Friday) which is highly critical of the Government’s promise to provide rural areas, like the Dales, with fast broadband.

The National Audit Office’s report ‘The rural broadband programme’ revealed that 53 per cent of rural dwellers rate the Government’s efforts as “poor”, compared with only 26 per cent rating progress as “good”.

The report also found 29 per cent of rural dwellers are dissatisfied with the speed of their broadband connection, compared with only 18 per cent of urban dwellers.

Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner said: “For a long time we have known this strategy is not making the inroads it needs to make to ensure that the UK has the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.

“We now know that only nine of 44 broadband projects are projected to reach their 90% superfast coverage target by May 2015 and that in June the target deadline was extended to March 2017 – the project will be nearly two years late.

A recent FOI request by the Countryside Alliance has shown that councils have struggled to gain public sector funding and the majority of match funding has now come from LAs and not the private sector.

“The UK needs an internet infrastructure that can meet the demands of a modern digital society and it is now time for DCMS to ensure that rural communities are included as part of the national infrastructure,” added Sir Barney.

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