MPs call for rural broadband action header image

More needs to be done to improve the UK's rural broadband, according to a parliamentary inquiry. 

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has conducted an investigation into the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' activities and concluded it is yet to achieve its target of providing better internet access in the countryside.

On the subject of broadband, it claimed rural households, businesses and schools are lagging behind those in urban areas. It also criticised the Broadband Delivery UK programme for running two years behind schedule and questioned whether the goals of 90 per cent super-fast coverage and minimum speeds of two Mbps for the remaining ten per cent will be achieved. 

Chair of the committee, Anne McIntosh, commented: "Broadband has become a basic utility, yet thousands of people in rural communities have ridiculously slow speeds or no connection at all."

She claimed it is crucial the minimum target of two Mbps is met and called on the government to make it clear when people in rural locations can expect to see their service improved.

"To expedite the rollout of super-fast broadband the government must publish details showing precisely what areas will be covered by BT under the Rural Broadband Programme in order to allow alternative providers to fill in the gaps," Ms McIntosh added. 

The committee chair also discussed the £300 million the BBC pledged to invest in rural broadband in August 2012.

Ms McIntosh said the government has been aware of this funding for a long time and there should be no delay in using it once it becomes available. She suggested the best way to spend the money would be to employ it as a lever to promote private and community investment in improving rural internet access.

Waiting for the government rollout is not the only option for people looking to better their online experience in the countryside. Satellite broadband from Avonline is available immediately and can provide a fast and reliable connection within just a few weeks of placing an order.

Posted by Craig Roberts