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Homes and businesses in rural communities will have to request high-quality broadband connectivity, the government has confirmed.

Last year, the government said it wants to implement a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) that ensures everyone in Britain is able to access minimum speeds of 10Mbps by 2020.

This would mean broadband is regarded as a basic utility comparable to water and electricity and help to establish the UK as "the most digitised major economy in Europe".

However, the government has now stated in a consultation document on the USO that broadband will not be an automatic right in hard-to-reach locations, due to the expense.

"Given the high costs of providing broadband access to premises in remote areas it is right that this is done on request, rather than rolling it out and waiting to see if people in those areas want to be connected," it said.

"We know from the various interventions that the government has made to date that it is unlikely that everyone will want to be connected, even if that option is made available to them, and so we do not believe that an additional broadband rollout programme at this time is proportionate or would represent value for money."

The Countryside Alliance has criticised the decision and accused the government of showing a "casually metropolitan sentiment".

Chief Executive Tim Bonner warned that thousands of families and business are "at a distinct disadvantage" without superfast broadband.

Furthermore, he argued that committing to rolling out broadband to 95 per cent of the UK "doesn't go far enough and ignores that vital final five per cent", who should have access to full service "without having to make any special requests".

"No special treatment is necessary, just equality," he added.

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