Government plans to install super-fast broadband throughout the whole of the UK by 2015 are unlikely to be achieved.
That's according to a report from the Country Land & Business Association (CLA), which comes days after the government revealed the first 10 cities to receive super-fast broadband funds. The CLA has been campaigning for better, more affordable broadband in rural areas for 10 years.
‘Broadband Fit for Rural Growth' suggests that almost one-fifth of rural areas are currently unable to receive the government's benchmark internet speed of 2Mbit/s, arguing that this means a national rollout for super-fast broadband is doubtful without serious improvements in these regions.
"Broadband acts as an economic driver for rural businesses as well as helping the social development of rural communities. But between 15 and 20 per cent of those who live in rural areas are still unable to receive anywhere near the government's benchmark of 2Mbit/s," said CLA president Harry Cotterell.
"It is unlikely that the government's objective for Britain to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015 will be realised," he added.
The CLA argues that network providers should be obligated to provide broadband coverage even for the most remote areas of the UK, or risk widening the urban/rural divide in business and economic development.
Cotterell argues that a universal internet service "commitment" rather than an obligation gives the government a ready-made excuse if super-fast broadband isn't implemented throughout the UK by the planned date.
"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," he said.
Speaking in August, former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK will have the fastest broadband network in Europe by 2015. Following Hunt's move to Health in a recent government reshuffle, his replacement Maria Miller MP has spoken of her plans to remove bureaucratic hurdles from the rollout of high-speed broadband.