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The CLA has welcomed Ofcom's statement that more needs to be done to deliver high-quality broadband in rural areas.

Last month, Ofcom published its Strategic Review of Digital Communication, which outlines a strategy to promote the rollout of ultrafast broadband facilities on a large scale, based on cable and fibre lines.

While the regulator stopped short of demanding that Openreach be separated from BT, it did suggest that it be governed "at arm's length from BT, with greater independence in taking its own decisions on budget, investment and strategy". 

The CLA, which represents owners of land, property and businesses in rural England and Wales, has responded by saying this is the right decision.

John Mortimer, South West Director of the body, said this is because separating Openreach from BT would have created a major distraction at a time when other issues need to be addressed, such as improving broadband connectivity in rural areas.

"The CLA has made the case that lack of access to broadband puts rural businesses, families and individuals at a serious disadvantage - and Ofcom has backed that view, saying that much more could, and should be done to deliver universal broadband to avoid economic and social deprivation in rural areas," he commented.

Speaking to the South West Farmer, Mr Mortimer said that while the CLA is not calling for a structural separation of Openreach from BT, it still believes there are failings in how it is run.

As a result, the body is backing Ofcom's proposals for reform, which include supporting investment by rival providers to make the market more competitive and reduce the country's reliance on Openreach.

Ofcom hopes to achieve this goal by improving access to Openreach’s network of telegraph poles and its ducts - the underground tubes that carry telecoms cables. This will enable competitors to connect their own fibre optic cables directly to homes.

Mr Mortimer added that it is good that Ofcom agrees with the CLA's view that the universal right to broadband should begin at 10Mbps and go up in line with customer demand over time.

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