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The government has been urged to "stand up to powerful interests" in the broadband industry and speak up for rural communities.

According to the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), almost half of businesses in rural areas cannot receive broadband speeds higher than 10Mbps. In addition, about one in five cannot receive speeds above 5Mbps.

The CLA believes this is preventing many of these businesses from achieving their full potential.

It has therefore called on the government to adopt a tougher stance against broadband providers, as many are consistently missing their targets whilst receiving considerable amounts of public money and posting large profits.

Ross Murray, President of the CLA, commented: "Too frequently they offer excuses rather than action in connecting our countryside. It is time to deliver."

The CLA went on to welcome the prime minister's recent commitment to a Universal Service Obligation of at least 10Mbps by 2020 and said work is underway to define what this will mean in practice.

However, the body stated that it intends to push for this Universal Service Obligation to mean that every home and business is legally entitled to be connected.

"If this commitment is not met, a home, business or community can claim compensation that could be used to pay for them to achieve a different means to get connected," the CLA commented.

The organisation also argued that if communities take the initiative to invest in their own connections, they should be empowered to do so with "access to match funding or other incentives, rather than penalised".

Mr Murray added that while the countryside is "buzzing with economic potential", the 646,000 rural businesses in England and Wales are being overlooked "too often".

"Our vision is that a person setting up or growing a rural business should have the same opportunities as anyone seeking to do so in towns and cities," he said.

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