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The star of one of the UK's biggest TV dramas is backing calls for increased investment in rural broadband services.

Hugh Bonneville, who plays the Earl of Grantham in ITV's stellar period drama Downton Abbey, has called on the broadband industry to up its game in the UK countryside.

The actor, whose acting credits include Mansfield Park and Notting Hill, lives 40 miles south of London in a village with "pretty pathetic" broadband coverage.

Bonneville said he yearns for a connection that simply stays on, "never mind one that goes at the speed of light".

"I'd love to run aspects of my work from home; I'd love to sign up for services that stream content but the connection's just too unreliable," he noted.

"Some days I can't even send an email and there doesn't seem to be much I can do about it."

The actor said he had become increasingly frustrated at the poor quality of internet services, particularly as many other areas have received upgrades.

"The BT Infinity advertisements drive me nuts," he commented.

"When I applied I was told there aren't enough people in my area to merit the local exchange being upgraded but that if sufficient support was drummed up, it might get the opportunity to go in a ballot and possibly be considered for improvement."

Bonneville explained that the best broadband connection he had experienced was a lot further than 40 miles from London - in Liberia.

The Country Land & Business Association is urging other rural residents to support its Can't Get Online Week campaign.

According to the lobby group, every business and household in the UK countryside should be able to access a broadband connection with speeds of at least 5Mb.

CLA President William Worsley said one-fifth of rural England still does not have adequate capacity broadband, and in 2011 that is "just not acceptable".

"The government wants us to fill in tax returns online because it's more cost-effective and schools expect children to do homework online. These are only possible if homes and businesses have a good broadband connection," he added.

Broadband providers must concentrate on bringing internet not-spots up to speed "rather than making the already-fast even faster", Mr Worsley urged.

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