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Amazon has called for more to be done to help unlock the "digital potential" of rural areas across the UK.

According to a report commissioned by the company, published by Rural England and Scotland's Rural College, greater digital adoption in the countryside could boost the economy by between £12 billion and £26.4 billion a year.

Estimates also suggest this could boost annual business turnover in the countryside by at least £15 billion, with micro-businesses and small businesses seeing the strongest returns.

The report has therefore called for more to be done to help rural areas tap into this potential and stimulate digital adoption outside major towns and cities.

For instance, it proposed streamlining digital support services, so a single portal for information and local directories is available to provide guidance to rural businesses.

The report has also suggested establishing Digital Enterprise Hubs in countryside towns, which firms can use or access for better connectivity, hot-desk space and training.

Meanwhile, businesses that already use superfast broadband could be encouraged to champion its benefits to their peers, so firms can see practical real-life examples of how it has been an asset to other companies.

Doug Curr, UK Country Manager at Amazon, commented: "Over the past 20 years, we've seen opportunities for rural entrepreneurs transformed through e-commerce, better delivery services and growing access to fast broadband. 

"But as today’s report shows, there’s much further to go before anyone can say the rural-urban divide has closed."

The report has been welcomed by Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who said the internet has the potential to enable the countryside to "flourish in a way that combines preserving the environment with economic dynamism".

He added that digital technology can create opportunities, boost skills and connect rural businesses to global markets.

This comes shortly after Mr Gove criticised the inconsistency of broadband coverage across the UK, saying it is "unjustifiable" that broadband provision is "so patchy and poor in so many areas".

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