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CLA Warns of Widening Next Generation Broadband Divide
By: MarkJ - 04 March, 2009 (9:52 AM)

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has warned that Ofcom’s pledge to encourage super-fast broadband through deregulation could risk widening the existing rural/urban digital divide:

Douglas Chalmers, Director CLA North, said: “Ofcom has missed the point and obviously doesn’t understand the needs of rural communities. By deregulating broadband there is far less chance of the rural economy remaining competitive, and those in rural communities will be further disenfranchised from services and information.

Government wants to increase rural business through the internet, whether for the Whole Farm Approach or for filing tax and company returns, and this is unrealistic or even impossible without broadband in rural areas.

We accept common standard services for telephone, electric, water, roads, schools, health and public transport – many being supported by public funds – but affordable and effective broadband is now as important as these for everyone. We have evidence that businesses and families will consider relocating from areas without it.

The CLA hopes that both the public and the private sector will understand that neglecting rural Britain in this way could be harmful. For its part Ofcom has already promised to open a debate about bringing next gen broadband services to more people.

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