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CLA seeks to strike new deal to end rural broadband divide

Rural landowners are helping to bring faster broadband and mobile signals to the countryside

Rural broadband coverage problem

Rural mobile phone and broadband coverage lags behind urban areas

Landowners have pledged to work with fibre broadband providers to grant access to private land — in the hope of bringing an end to the rural digital divide.

Slow internet speeds and patchy mobile coverage

Rural areas are way behind in terms of the fastest broadband and best mobile phone coverage and this has impacted upon both residents and many rural businesses as a result.

The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, made the offer of a way leave to the Government in response to a call for evidence by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport on extending local full fibre broadband networks. A way leave is a legal written consent that allows infrastructure providers access to carry out work on privately owned land.

New marketing effort for rural home and business owners

CLA senior business and economics advisor Dr Charles Trotman said: “We fully support the Government’s commitment to full fibre roll-out to improve broadband and mobile coverage. This latest push must end the long-running rural-urban divide once and for all. We are looking for Government and industry to set out more specific plans that show where and when digital infrastructure will be upgraded in rural areas. We are also calling for a new marketing effort to ensure rural home and business owners are aware when new connections become available.

“If the Government follows through on the commitment it is setting out, the CLA is prepared to work with the industry to negotiate an overarching way-leave agreement between landowners and infrastructure providers for access to deliver a network of underground fixed lines. Such a deal has the potential to dramatically advance broadband provision in rural areas,” added Dr Trotman.