CLA demands broadband improvements for rural businesses

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Country Land and Business Association (CLA) East has welcomed the announcement of a Government review of business access to broadband, but said there was an immediate need to create more superfast connections.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the review would help the creation of an extensive digital infrastructure that would give every business, regardless of size or location, access to fast, reliable connectivity.

CLA East Regional Director Ben Underwood said: “Having poor or non-existent broadband is a catastrophe for rural businesses. It’s the single biggest barrier to them achieving their potential. The announcement of a review is welcome, but it has to be swift, incisive and set specific targets and deadlines for ensuring businesses get access to superfast connections sooner rather than later.

“Every day that passes without broadband is another day rural businesses are held back from achieving their potential.

“The Government needs to demand results from BT and Openreach, as well as encouraging better competition and choice in the market place, and offering support for people in remote locations wanting to utilise differing innovative technologies in order to get connected.”

Mr Underwood added that Ofcom’s decision to not force the separation of national broadband network Openreach from BT was the best outcome for rural communities and businesses still waiting for superfast broadband access.

He said: “Despite their many failings, the CLA has repeatedly said separating Openreach from BT would create a significant distraction from providing rural homes and businesses with fast, affordable broadband.

“We welcome Ofcom’s robust recommendations in its ‘Strategic Review of Digital Communications’ about the way Openreach should operate in the future. These support the CLA’s view that much more should be done to deliver universal broadband to avoid economic and social deprivation in rural areas.

“Ofcom has set clear expectations from the industry, and the CLA will not stop demanding better performance from BT and Openreach until the job is done.”