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The future of rural economies is under threat unless they get broadband.

That's the considered opinion of UK e-envoy Andrew Pinder who believes that broadband is essential if rural areas are to thrive.

Speaking to epolitix.com, Mr Pinder said: "Rural broadband is an issue, and it's going to be an increasing issue because rural areas are going through a rough time.

"Employment on the land is declining, the average age of farmers is increasing radically now, it's 60, younger people are moving away from rural areas, and that's bad for rural villages.

"And given that most new employment these days is IT based, we need to have IT connectivity, particularly broadband, for industry to go to a rural place.

"If we don't we're going to end up with an empty countryside and that's really bad for everybody, an empty and poor countryside," he said.

So, has Mr Pinder any ideas to help resolve the issue? We'll let you know just as soon as someone at his office gets back to us.

In the meantime, the head of the Countryside Agency has said that it is "up to rural communities to work together with funding partners and suppliers to get themselves on to the superhighway".

While e-minister, Stephen Timms, said that getting affordable broadband to areas currently regarded as commercially unviable continues to be a "challenge", although he remained convinced that aggregating public sector demand would help. ®

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