Business body criticises pace of rural broadband provision

An influential business association representing the interests of rural enterprises has said that the government has been too slow in facilitating the expansion of superfast broadband to outlying areas of the UK, making it unlikely to meet its 2015 target of complete superfast broadband availability for the whole of the UK.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) claims that as much as 20% of the rural population is still without reliable broadband provision and that the time thus far taken in rolling out superfast broadband in the UK implies a strong likelihood that the government will fail to reach its 2015 target.

The CLA says that the government can remedy the situation by imposing a legal obligation on broadband operators to extend their services to rural parts, as well as by permitting those networks in the public sector to be accessed by rural communities. The consequences of not taking action, the CLA claims, would be detrimental to the success of economic development in these rural areas.
Contrary to the CLA’s claims, Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, has stated that the UK’s superfast broadband roll-out is up to speed and that the 2015 target is on course to be met. The CLA’s fears, however, have been echoed by other local business associations and by individual enterprises themselves.

In addition to being unable to achieve commercially viable download speeds for communications ranging from business information to customers’ online orders or queries, a lack of superfast broadband access is also known to severely hamper enterprises’ attempts to compete on an even keel in terms of premium communications facilities.

The latter of these includes internet protocol (IP) telephony and, in particular, business VoIP (voice over internet protocol) – a technology which permits easier scalability for business phone systems, while also offering the possibility for reduced phone costs.