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The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has welcomed the Con-Lib government's pledge to provide enhanced broadband services in the countryside.

Earlier this week, the Environment and Culture Secretaries of State announced that steps would be taken to reduce the digital divide between urban and rural areas in the UK.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that three trial rural broadband projects will be undertaken, as the government plans for universal high-speed broadband.

And Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman noted that broadband access for rural communities "is essential" if local economies and businesses are to be supported.

Agreeing with these comments, CLA President William Worsley said "a big step in the right direction" was undoubtedly being taken.

"We are greatly encouraged by the ministers publicly committing themselves to a universal service commitment of 2Mb by 2012 and by Mr Hunt's admission that it is a 'scandal' nearly three million households in Britain cannot access this broadband speed," he said.

"Rural businesses will only survive and thrive if this government wastes no time in putting its good intentions on rural broadband into practice."

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