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The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has called for the government's obligation to provide superfast broadband speeds across the UK to be enshrined in law.

Ofcom is currently seeking responses to a consultation on a new Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband, which it will submit to the government by the end of the year.

The CLA, which represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses, believes legal accountability must be introduced to ensure planned delivery of broadband services is achieved by 2020.

"A USO that can guarantee sufficient bandwidth will transform rural areas and must be enshrined in law," CLA President Ross Murray stated, adding that at present, only around half of homes and businesses in rural areas can get online at a speed higher than 10Mbps. In addition, one in five rural premises cannot access speeds higher than 5Mbps.

He called for 10Mbps to be set as a minimum benchmark speed but also argued the USO must be easily amended, as this speed "may work in 2020 but could be insufficient just five years later".

At present, the existing USO for broadband states that the public must have access to speeds of at least 28.8Kbps, a figure that is drastically outdated for today. Given the number of providers now on the market, the CLA argues more than one universal service provider should be used to offer greater choice.

The body also wants a legal guarantee that customers can receive compensation when they do not receive a speed of at least 10Mbps, as well as a pledge the consumers can look into alternative ways of getting online - such as satellite, fibre or wireless - if their current connection is not sufficient.

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