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Rural campaigners have expressed disappointment that Virgin Media's multi-billion pound network expansion will focus on UK towns and cities.

The cable operator has announced plans to increase its nationwide footprint, bringing four million more homes within reach of the Virgin Media network.

However, the firm is focusing on building out its urban broadband infrastructure, rather than increasing access to super-fast connectivity in the British countryside.

As reported by the BBC, the Country and Land Association (CLA) warned that the decision could "exacerbate the rural-urban digital divide".

The organisation acknowledged that there is less of a commercial incentive for providers such as Virgin Media to invest in rural areas, but a spokesperson said the urban focus was "a pity".

"What is clear is that rural areas will not be able to access speeds in excess of 30Mb or 50Mb for some time to come," the representative stated.

"All this does is show that the rural economy is neglected once again."

Sarah Lee, Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance, said it was "disappointing that the improvements will not be seen in rural areas".

However, she said the organisation welcomes Virgin Media's attempt to challenge BT's "monopoly", in terms of UK communications infrastructure.

"We hope this investment will encourage all broadband providers to look beyond the cityscape and invest in our countryside communities, to enable them to compete economically and socially in this digital world," Ms Lee added.

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