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Rural sector in Ely warns Ofcom for immediate solutions to rural broadband woes

Author: FarmingUK Published: 13th March 2017 07:57

 Rural Farming

BT Openreach in Ely: Rural sector warns Ofcom for immediate solutions to rural broadband woes

The Countryside Alliance calls for immediate solutions to rural broadband woes as it labels proposed BT Openreach separation a distraction.

Ofcom has announced that BT has agreed to separate legally from Openreach, with the rural community saying it should not distract from the rollout of broadband to rural areas.

Openreach will become a distinct company with its own staff, management, purpose and strategy.

The Countryside Alliance has said the legal separation of BT and Openreach 'must not distract us all' from the rollout of broadband to those communities which are receiving a poor level of service.

The Countryside Alliance is concerned that it could take several years for this separation to be completed and challenges Ofcom to ensure the separation is swift to ensure that Openreach can focus on broadband delivery in the countryside.

59% of rural homes

1.4 million premises remain unable to access broadband speeds over 10 Mbit/s, the speeds required to meet a typical household’s digital needs, which is also the proposed speed of the Government’s Universal Service Obligation.

Superfast broadband, measured at 30 Mbit/s, is now available to 89% of UK homes, but only 59% of homes in rural areas are able to access superfast speeds.

Head of Policy at Countryside Alliance, Sarah Lee, says: “Separating Openreach from BT has often been presented as the panacea to all broadband woes. I fear that many who expect this institutional separation to make a significant contribution to addressing the frustrations of rural communities without adequate broadband provision could be sorely disappointed.

“Ofcom must now ensure that Openreach places customers at the heart of their decision-making process, as it is vital at the end of this that we end up with a competitive market that delivers the modern digital services and the infrastructure Britain desperately needs.”

100% commitment to investment

The CLA has welcomed the news that BT has reached an amicable agreement with Ofcom regarding the future of Openreach, ending what could have been lengthy negotiations.

Dr Charles Trotman, Senior Economics Adviser for the CLA, has said: “It is good news that BT and Ofcom have reached an amicable agreement and hopefully ended what has been a long running political and legal row.

“Openreach must now focus 100% on delivering the investment needed to connect rural communities. The CLA will continue to work with all parties to find new ways to get the best possible connections into rural areas and end once and for all the rural-urban digital divide.”




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