New research highlights positive economic impact of superfast broadband – but urban-rural disparity remains strong

Barnham, West Sussex

Businesses in areas covered by the Government’s rollout of superfast broadband have seen a combined £9 billion increase in turnover since speeds were boosted, new figures reveal.

The CLA welcomes the research findings, but urges government to intensify its efforts to put broadband in rural areas on a par with more urban centres.

The CLA South East team, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses across Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, has been pushing for the roll-out of faster, more reliable broadband and phone coverage via the ‘#4GforAll’ campaign.

Over the summer it has gained support from politicians and community figures including Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, Maidstone and The Weald MP Helen Grant and the Bishop of Lewes the Right Reverend Richard Jackson.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “This research vindicates the CLA’s position on the value that superfast broadband can bring to our rural economy. Despite the progress made on the roll-out of superfast broadband, the research also highlights the disparity between broadband in urban areas in comparison to rural areas.

“Together with broadband, 4G mobile coverage is essential for services in 21st century Britain, but rural areas are not able to participate in the digital revolution as fully as in urban areas.  We want mobile phone operators held to account to deliver universal rural 4G Digital infrastructure which is vital in making rural villages, farms and businesses sustainable by acting as a catalyst for economic growth and job creation.”

The CLA, along with RICS, Mobile UK and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, recently issued a joint statement on negotiations linked to the new Electronics Communications Code pledging to work together to improve mobile phone coverage across the countryside.

Mr Breitmeyer added: “Improving mobile phone coverage across the countryside has clear benefits to rural businesses, consumers and mobile operators. It is only by working together that the most meaningful improvements will be delivered.”

Minister for Digital Margot James said: “Our rollout of superfast broadband across the UK has been the most challenging infrastructure project in a generation but is one of our greatest successes. We are reaching thousands more homes and businesses every week that can now reap the clear and tangible benefits that superfast broadband provides. We are helping to ensure the downfall of the digital divide.”

For more information about the CLA and its work, visit www.cla.org.uk/your-area/south-east/regional-news and follow @CLASouthEast on Twitter.

For the Government’s superfast broadband release visit www.gov.uk/government/news/need-for-speed-drives-9-billion-superfast-broadband-boost

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