The government flagship rural broadband initiative looks doomed to failure unless additional funding is provided, it has been claimed.
Ian Page, Vice-Chairman of Burton Business Club, claimed that the £530 million set aside to deliver high-speed broadband to rural areas is an inadequate amount.
The Con-Lib coalition is aiming to provide every UK community with a minimum of 2Mb broadband by 2015, but concerns have been raised over the costs of this project.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has already admitted that the £530 million set aside – plus another £300 million after 2015 – may not be enough to achieve the government's digital goals.
And computer expert Mr Page expects this to be the case – he thinks the public funding made available so far is just a fraction of what is required.
Speaking to the Burton Mail, he described current funding arrangements for the rural broadband rollout as "pathetic".
"We are not going to get a high-class speed for that money," Mr Page stated.
"I personally would say that a government investment of £5 billion would be needed to make Britain number one in the world for broadband."
He offered the view that wireless broadband services may be better suited to rural areas than fibre networks, which have higher rollout costs.
With fewer people living and working in the countryside than in urban areas, there is less of a need for cable infrastructure, Mr Page argued.
Private sector broadband providers are driving investment in UK towns and cities, where the more concentrated populations offer the potential for greater profitability.
BT is currently investing £2.5 billion rolling out fibre broadband in the UK, while Virgin Media's 100Mb cable network now passes a quarter of UK households.