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Rural UK must do more to get broadband

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People in rural areas must take the initiative and do more to help themselves if they want high speed Internet access.

With fewer than one in ten villages in the UK hooked up to broadband, it is up to local communities to drive forward campaigns to secure funding and suppliers of high-speed services.

To help those keen to press ahead with such campaigns, the Countryside Agency has published what it describes as a "best practice" report, which examines 13 community broadband projects in England.

It draws on the experiences of those who've already worked to bring broadband to their areas providing help and guidance for others keen to undertake similar schemes.

As well as looking at the technologies available, the report also looks at other issues including funding, network design and user support.

Launching the study, Countryside Agency chief exec, Richard Wakeford, said: "With broadband suppliers unlikely to get all the UK online, it is up to rural communities to work together with funding partners and suppliers to get themselves on to the superhighway.

"Currently only 7 per cent of villages are linked up to broadband, but with the right know-how rural communities can, and do, create their own broadband supplies."

Last week eminister Stephen Timms admitted that getting affordable broadband to areas currently regarded as commercially unviable - in many cases rural areas - continued to be a "challenge".

Indeed, the latest stats show that while 95 per cent of urban areas can get broadband, only a quarter of market towns are hooked up to high-speed Net access. And it gets worse - only 7 per cent of villages have broadband, while just 1 per cent of remote rural areas are wired up.

The Countryside Agency's report, Broadband in rural areas - Best practice study can be found in pdf format here. ®

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