Thursday, October 27, 2011

Downton Star Joins CLA “Can’t Get Online” Campaign

Rural Champions, the CLA, have launched a campaign designed to highlight the problems of rural areas still struggling to access broadband.

The campaign is a counter balance to the Government’s week-long promotion encouraging people to get online, and is timed to coincide with it - the CLA’s: ‘Can’t Get Online’ week runs from 30 October to 6 November. The Association’s aim is to ensure that every rural business and household can access a broadband connection of at least five megabits per second.

The problem, according to CLA experts, is that a fifth of rural England still cannot access even modest broadband speeds.

The campaign has already won the backing of Downton Abbey star, Hugh Bonneville, who plays the Earl of Grantham in ITV1’s popular period drama. Hugh lives in a village just 40 miles outside London but he says the broadband connection is “pretty pathetic” and wants infrastructure companies to give the countryside a chance.

He said: “I'd love to run aspects of my work from home; I'd love to sign up for services that stream content but the connection's just too unreliable. Some days I can't even send an email and there doesn’t seem to be much I can do about it.”

The week-long ‘Can’t Get Online’ roadshow, which is sponsored by the CLA, will see IT and social media expert, John Popham, touring rural communities across England to highlight the difficulties they face in getting online. He will be encouraging people with inadequate or non-existent broadband to find a friend with a broadband connection and sign the CLA petition calling for a minimum universal service commitment of 5 megabytes.

CLA South West director, John Mortimer, said: “In today’s world it is just not acceptable that broadband providers can choose to ignore rural areas. The Government wants us to fill in tax returns online because it’s more cost-effective and schools expect children to do homework online. This is only possible if homes and businesses have access to superfast broadband - internet service providers must be persuaded to bring broadband ‘not-spots’ up to speed rather than making the already fast even faster.”

People can sign the CLA petition at http://www.cla.org.uk/Policy_Work/Petitions/
Anybody who cannot access the petition can call the CLA regional office and leave their details to be added to the petition. The CLA in the South West can be contacted on
01249 700200.

Notes:

• Up to 20 percent of rural areas are still unable to receive an effective and affordable broadband connection.

• Up to 35 percent have no access to superfast broadband.

• Over 100,000 rural businesses do not have a broadband connection, leading to a clear rural-urban digital divide.

• Average broadband speeds in the UK are 6.2Mbps. But rural areas are lucky if they can receive 500kbps.

For further information on this news release contact:

Paul Millard CLA SW Communications Manager on 01380 830179

For further information on the CLA go to: www.cla.org.uk

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