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The government needs to provide a Universal Service Obligation for broadband of at least 2Mb, the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) has claimed.

Addressing the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, the organisation reiterated the importance of closing the digital divide.

The CLA said that with ultra-fast broadband services rolling out across urban Britain, the broadband gap is actually widening.

This is despite the £530 million set aside by the Con-Lib coalition to deliver high-speed broadband to rural communities across the UK.

According to the CLA, not enough is being done to ensure those who live and work in the countryside have access to 2Mb broadband, let alone super-fast speeds.

Under the European Commission's digital agenda targets, all EU residents should have access to speeds of at least 30Mb by the end of the decade.

And at least half of all people living in the 27-nation bloc should have access to 100Mb broadband by 2020.

Harry Cotterell, President of the CLA, noted that the government is moving more of its services online and has even recognised that broadband is essential to the economic well-being of rural areas.

"However, there is no legal requirement for the government to deliver the basic 2Mb speed that many rural businesses currently struggle to receive," he added.

"The rural-urban digital divide needs to be closed as soon as possible. Rural businesses have the potential to act as a dynamo for economic growth but they must be given the same tools as urban businesses to do the job."

Mr Cotterell said it is "essential" that the coalition agrees to a legally binding Universal Service Obligation, rather than just a general commitment.

This way, stakeholders can have greater confidence that adequate broadband will be available to all, he added.

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