In response to BT's announcement today regarding the roll-out of superfast broadband to even more rural customers, Professor Mark Shucksmith, Director of Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal commented:
"The announcement today by BT that they are to reach even more rural areas with their superfast broadband is to be welcomed. However, there are hundreds of rural communities who will have to struggle with sub-standard broadband access until at least 2017. Mobile phone coverage also remains inadequate to access the internet and emails on the move in many parts of rural Britain.
"A lack of superfast broadband puts off businesses from choosing more rural locations as a base. With fewer opportunities, highly skilled workers then move to urban areas for work, perpetuating the common stereotype of rural areas being the sole preserve of agricultural or service based industries.
"In fact, with increasing numbers of people wanting to work from home, whether for their employer or running their own business, the need to improve rural access to superfast broadband is even more urgent. We must press providers to do more and faster to meet the Government's target of 95% coverage of all areas with superfast broadband by 2017. If we do not, rural communities will continue to lag behind their urban counterparts as centres of enterprise and productivity at a time when Government Ministers are emphasising the potential contribution rural businesses can make to the economy."