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High-speed broadband can help breathe life back into rural businesses, it has been claimed.

David Dukes, Economic Development Manager for Norfolk County Council, said that a failure to fund non-urban infrastructure upgrades would be "one more nail in the coffin of rural life".

He told the Eastern Daily Press that poor broadband speeds are dissuading companies from basing themselves in countryside areas.

And this can have a knock-on effect to entire rural communities, Mr Dukes claimed.

"If you have got an employer in a rural area, those employees are more likely to spend some of their earnings in that economy," he noted.

"They will pop to the shop to buy a paper, or nip into the pub for lunch."

Mr Dukes added that with shops, pubs, post offices and other rural services closing on a weekly basis, broadband investment can make a big difference to the countryside.

The government recently announced the creation of a new £20 million fund designed to finance small-scale broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas.

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