Innovation fund to boost rural broadband solutions announced

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The Countryside Alliance welcomes a £10m project unveiled by the Treasury on 5 December that will fund the development of new ways to improve broadband speeds in the most remote rural areas.

The “competitive fund” will open in early 2014 and will be used to test broadband solutions aimed specifically at the most difficult to reach parts of the UK.

The Countryside Alliance has long believed that a range of technologies, such as mobile, satellite and Wi-Fi connections, should be used to deliver broadband to remote rural areas as fibre optic is unlikely to reach those parts.

Sir Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance said: “This is great news for rural businesses and communities. Broadband connectivity is as important to those people as a connection to gas, water and electricity.

“We hope this fund will ensure the roll-out of broadband happens as swiftly as possible, which will ensure the digital divide does not grow any wider and enable rural communities to compete economically and socially with their urban counterparts.”