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Rural businesses and households are being "suffocated" by broadband connections that are slow and unreliable, it has been warned.

According to the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), over 800,000 properties in remote areas are currently unable to meet the 2Mb broadband speed target set by the government for 2012, the Telegraph reported.

With broadband coverage still patchy in many parts of the country, the organisation claimed that internet "not spots" are undermining the development of an energy-efficient, high-tech industry outside of urban centres.

BT intends to roll out its 40Mb fibre-optic broadband service in most built-up areas over the next few years, prompting the CLA to warn of a 'digital chasm' that will only get larger with time.

"Nobody wants to spend the money to install fibre-optic cables which would solve this problem, unlike America and Australia which have unveiled plans to roll out fibre-optic across countries much larger than ours," CLA President Henry Aubrey-Fletcher told the newspaper.

"It is not too dramatic to state that the life of rural Britain will be snuffed out if by 2020 fibre-optic technology is only available to our cities and towns."

The Telegraph also reported that Lord Carter, who penned the Digital Britain report, has himself admitted that there is not enough financial incentive for internet service providers to bring next-generation broadband to all of the UK.

In similar news, the Essex branch of the Federation of Small Businesses has suggested that the government's plans for 2Mb universal broadband access are inadequate for most businesses, the Harlow Herald reported.

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