CLA-proposed subsidy confirmed by government to help provide rural broadband

26 March 2015

Rural businesses have welcomed the Government’s confirmation that subsidies will be made available to install broadband in the hardest-to-reach rural communities and businesses.

The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses said the Government’s response to the EFRA Select Committee report into broadband and digital-only services confirms its calls for providing a satellite subsidy scheme to help rollout rural broadband in the hardest-to-reach areas.

CLA President Henry Robinson said: “In our evidence to the Select Committee I highlighted that it is fundamental to achieve a connected countryside for rural businesses and communities to thrive.

“The Government’s response to the Committee’s report is a major step forward for the CLA rural broadband campaign. We are delighted to hear that the Government intends to subsidise the cost of installing superfast broadband solutions in hard-to-reach areas and has confirmed a delivery plan.

“We called for a voucher scheme to install satellite and other technologies in hard-to-reach areas. It is the quickest, fairest and most cost-effective solution to offer those living and working in the countryside a grant to buy better broadband.”

The Government also confirmed it will consult on whether the current Universal Service Obligation (USO) on dial-up should be extended to broadband and raised to a faster speed in the next Parliament.

Mr Robinson said: “A minimum speed of two Megabits per second (Mbps) is now too slow for modern requirements. We have called for a USO on broadband to ensure a legal guarantee of sufficient speeds and we encourage the next Government to bring forward this consultation as a priority to ensure the rural economy does not get left behind.”

Read the Government’s response to the EFRA Select Committee report into Rural Broadband and Digital Only      Services here