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The government’s urban-focused Connection Voucher scheme has come under fire from the Rural Shops Alliance (RSA).

RSA - which claims to represent more than 8,000 countryside-based businesses - has described the broadband funding scheme as "totally unfair".

It offers grants worth between £200 and £3,000 to help small businesses across 22 cities install super-fast broadband services.

RSA believes the government should be focusing its efforts on improving connectivity in the countryside, rather than supporting companies in areas where next-generation networks already exist.

"Much of rural Britain still depends for its internet connection on a copper wire, insulated from its neighbour by thin paper and surrounded by a lead sheath to keep water out - 1950's technology," RSA stated.

"There are millions of small businesses based in rural Britain, including thousands of rural shops, many without access to decent broadband speeds and reliability."

The alliance questioned why urban companies are being given "an even greater head start" on electronic communications than their rural counterparts.

RSA said that if money is available, it should be spent on accelerating the provision of a decent broadband speed to the entire country, rather than subsidising urban businesses.

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