Two-tier society threat of broadband exclusion

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Rural campaigners fear countryside communities will be left at the butt of a two-tier society unless solutions are found to reach communities excluded by the national rollout of superfast broadband.

Action with Communities in Rural England said the remaining five per cent of homes and businesses left out of the Government’s plan to connected communities with superfast capability by 2017 will be in rural areas.

Nick Chase, the rural network’s head of insight, called on the next Government to invest in finding alternative solutions for reaching the 1.4 million excluded properties, saying: “Our concern is that the final five per cent will all be in rural areas, leaving families, farmers and businesses out in the cold, creating a two-tier society. Families in rural communities often have to travel miles to access services, or to shop and bank and having superfast broadband would make a real difference. Getting online is also of huge benefit to those who are lonely or isolated.”

The plea came as MPs on the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee released a report on rural broadband. The committee fears the rollout of broadband to the 95 per cent who already have access to basic broadband is creating an even bigger gap between those with and those completely without broadband access.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport insisted work was under way to bring the remaining five per cent of areas up to superfast speeds.