CLA calls for legally binding commitment to 2Mbps broadband

Thursday, March 15th 2012
The government has been urged to implement a legally binding universal service obligation on broadband speeds.
CLA calls for legally binding commitment to 2Mbps broadband
Universal broadband with speeds of at least 2Mbps must be extended to rural communities in order to bridge the digital divide, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has warned.

In a response submitted to the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications' inquiry on super-fast broadband, the campaign group argued that not enough is being done to guarantee even basic internet connectivity for rural residents and businesses.

Harry Cotterell, president of the CLA, said there is not a legal requirement for the government to deploy minimum 2Mbps speeds to rural areas, despite the fact it has acknowledged the positive impact of broadband on the economy and is moving more and more important services online.

"The CLA's submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications makes it clear that the rural-urban digital divide needs to be closed as soon as possible," he commented.

"Rural businesses have the potential to act as a dynamo for economic growth, but they must be given the same tools as urban businesses to do the job."

Consequently, Mr Cotterell called for the implementation of a legally binding universal service obligation for broadband, rather than just a commitment from the Conservative-led coalition that it will improve connectivity away from urban centres.

This will give rural communities greater confidence that adequate broadband will be available to them in the coming years, he added.

The House of Lords committee launched its inquiry in February in response to the growing demand for bandwidth from consumers and businesses. It intends to discover more about the progress made by the government toward meeting its broadband goals, as well as the thinking behind its strategy.

Among the matters that are being investigated by the committee are the steps being taken by the government to ensure a "digital backwater" is not created in areas that are not commercially attractive for the rollout of super-fast broadband services.

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