The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has welcomed the news that BT subsidiary Openreach has outlined plans to bring full-fibre broadband to an additional three million homes and businesses in some of the UK’s most hard-to-reach communities.
The CLA has for decades campaigned for improved digital connectivity in rural areas, most recently as part of its Rural Powerhouse campaign which identified poor internet access as one of the primary reasons for the productivity gap between rural and urban economies.
Mark Bridgeman, CLA President, said: “This announcement from Openreach is a welcome step towards eradicating the digital divide between urban and rural areas.
“Connectivity has played a vital part in home working during the Covid-19 pandemic and, with many individuals and businesses considering a move to the countryside, it’s essential that rural communities continue to receive better coverage.
“Greater digital connectivity in the countryside will play a critical role in the nation’s economic recovery, allowing businesses to invest, grow and recruit long into the future.”
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that UK productivity could be boosted by £59 billion each year if full-fibre broadband was successfully rolled out across the
country. Hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created, allowing a more equitable distribution of opportunities for businesses operating in the countryside.
CLA South East represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight.