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Businesses and consumers in rural areas need to persuade private sector internet service providers (ISPs) to hook them up to the high-speed broadband network, it has been claimed.

Justin Brown, Head of Economic Regeneration at Lincolnshire County Council, has reiterated concerns that the digital divide between town and countryside is growing in the UK.

He told the Echo that discussions with BT – geared at upgrading the local network infrastructure - have been promising, but the case for investment needs making to other ISPs.

"Our strategy for improving digital coverage in Lincolnshire includes public sector organisations taking action.

"However, the main aspects of our strategy are to persuade private digital service providers, such as BT, Virgin Media and Vodafone and the wealth of others, they should invest in Lincolnshire."

Earlier this year, the Federation of Small Businesses claimed that countryside-based firms are trading "insufficiently" due to a lack of access to faster broadband speeds.

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