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The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has insisted the government's new Digital Strategy must not overlook rural areas.

Earlier this week, the government unveiled a £1 billion programme designed to keep Britain "at the forefront of digital connectivity".

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has confirmed that this funding will speed up the development and uptake of next generation digital infrastructure, including full fibre broadband and 5G.

Responding to the news, the CLA has stressed that there is still much to be done to ensure rural communities get access to effective broadband and mobile connectivity.

Dr Charles Trotman, Senior Economics Advisor at the CLA, commented: "People are increasingly coming to rely on mobile devices and using technology on the go, and the digital divide puts rural areas at an unfair disadvantage. 

"The government has said it will commit to rolling out 5G coverage, but this is of no comfort for those who still have poor mobile coverage or no coverage at all. 

"Without UK-wide infrastructure, the government’s vision for their digital strategy will simply not work."

Dr Trotman said the government's Universal Service Obligation, which would ensure everyone in Britain has a legal right to request minimum speeds of 10Mbps by 2020, will be crucial in providing "much-needed connectivity".

Nevertheless, he said more needs to be done to make sure this is completed by the set deadline.

Dr Trotman added that the CLA believes working in partnership with both industry and the government is "the best way to move forward in order to deliver a first-class digital infrastructure".

This comes shortly after the CLA called for more details from the government on how it plans to spend the £400 million it has set aside to improve the UK's fibre broadband infrastructure.

The organisation said it wants to see specific plans that show "where and when digital infrastructure will be upgraded in rural areas".

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