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The disparity in broadband speeds between urban and rural areas is "shocking", the Countryside and Landowners Association (CLA) has said.

A new report by Ofcom revealed that average download speeds in towns and cities are 50.5Mbps, whereas they are just 13.7Mbps in rural locations.

Figures also showed that 75 per cent of fixed broadband connections in rural areas are receiving an average actual speed of less than 10Mbps.

The CLA believes this is causing businesses in these locations to lose out to their counterparts in urban locations.

Christopher Price, Director of Policy at the CLA, commented: "In England and Wales, there are more than 600,000 rural businesses, and this is one of the greatest barriers to growth in rural areas.

"Poor or non-existent broadband puts rural communities at a major disadvantage to competitors in urban areas."

Mr Price acknowledged that the government's commitment to a Universal Service Obligation for broadband of 10Mbps by 2020 is a "positive step".

However, he said the latest figures from Ofcom show there is a long way to go before this "crucial milestone" is reached.

He added that people in rural areas have been "suffering for far too long" with inadequate broadband connections.

Ofcom has attributed the disparity between rural and urban locations to the lower availability of fibre and cable broadband in rural areas and slower average ADSL and fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connection speeds.

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