Broadband roll-out is ‘raw deal’ for rural communities

Rural communities have continued to suffer a raw deal in the ‘piecemeal’ roll-out of the broadband project across the UK, leading rural network ACRE has said.

ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) spoke out in the wake of criticism of the Government’s handling of the Rural Broadband Programme by the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee.

The Committee says the Department for Culture, Media and Sport ‘mismanaged’ the project by awarding all of the rural broadband projects so far to BT, which will ultimately benefit from £1.2bn of public funding.

But ACRE says the burning issue for rural communities and businesses is as fundamental as whether they will get broadband or not. Chief executive Janice Banks said: “Many local councils have published maps for the rural broadband programme, which is meant to extend superfast coverage to 90% of the premises in the UK.

“But despite an earlier pledge from the Secretary of State Maria Miller, the information provided by some councils is so limited and inconsistent it is impossible for people to tell whether their homes and businesses are included or not.

“This confusion ties the hands of innovative communities who want to come up with their own broadband solutions. No one will invest in a plan that could be overtaken by the BT roll-out.”

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