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The Country, Land & Business Association (CLA) has welcomed the House of Lords' recognition that broadband coverage is more important than speed.

In a newly published report, the Select Committee on Communications proposed that broadband access for all "should be a guiding principle" in the rollout of next-generation services.

The CLA submitted written evidence to the peers' inquiry on super-fast broadband, arguing that the government should provide a Universal Service Obligation of at least 2Mb in rural areas to close the widening digital divide.

CLA Deputy President Henry Robinson said that although hundreds of millions of pounds is being poured into building a better broadband network, rural areas are largely ignored by the major telecoms companies.

He suggested that the major broadband providers prefer to compete for faster speeds in areas that already have a good service.

“Recognition by the Lords Committee that access is more important than speed is extremely welcome," Mr Robinson stated.

He also echoed the committee's concerns about Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and its process for rolling out broadband infrastructure to rural areas.

"With only two out of the nine bidders for local authorities to choose from, BDUK has a flawed procurement process," Mr Robinson stated.

"The concerns raised by the Lords, coupled with those already expressed by the CLA, should force the government to intervene."

However, he said the CLA disagrees with the Lords' recommendation that using fibre-optic technology is the best approach for delivering broadband infrastructure.

"The CLA advocates a patchwork quilt model that uses the most appropriate technologies for a certain area, rather than using a single technology," Mr Robinson explained.

"An over-reliance on a single model is limiting the government’s chance of meeting its 2015 deadlines to provide super-fast broadband of at least 24Mb for 90 per cent of premises, and its commitment to deliver 2Mb to all rural areas."

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