“Digital rural apartheid” threatens firms, warns campaigner
Jan 21st 2016, 10:27 by Nathaniel Dalby
Broadband issues in rural areas of the UK have created a “digital rural apartheid”, a broadband campaigner has claimed.
Graham Long, chairman of Broadband for Rural Devon and Somerset has said that rural areas were facing discrimination as far was broadband was concerned, and that many rural based firms were suffering because of this.
Mr Long also claimed that more and more businesses would start to leave rural areas if broadband did not start to improve.
Whilst fibre broadband is gradually being rolled out across the country, residents of Devon and Somerset are still concerned about the pace of the rollout.
Some even claim that stable broadband will never reach some areas, as the government’s coverage target is not 100%.
Connecting Devon and Somerset, the firm tasked with overseeing the rollout, has currently connected 250,000 properties in the area, but residents say that this is not good enough.
Mr Long added that homeowners could suffer as much as businesses, as they could find it hard to sell their homes in the future.
“It is a digital rural apartheid and it is not right that people here should be missing out on this technology because of where they live.”
A recent survey showed that around 48% of homes in areas such as Somerset could not reach broadband speeds of 10Mbps, despite coverage recently improving.
A spokesperson from Connecting Devon and Somerset said that this figure was due to get even bigger in 2016.
“This puts us on track to reach around 90 per cent coverage by the end of 2016 - and take-up is good too.”
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