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Campaigner accuses government of rural internet con

image of fibre-optic cableFriday’s Western Daily Press reports that it has come to light that almost half of homes and businesses in rural areas described as “live” on broadband maps are not connected for fast speeds, i.e. a minimum of 24 Mbps.

Forty-eight per cent of rural premises – believed to be some 1.5 million people – have to endure speeds of under 10Mbps and of those 22 per cent cannot obtain speeds above 5Mbps, according to Graham Long, chairman of the Broadband for Rural Devon and Somerset campaign group.

Mr Long states: “This is one of the biggest confidence tricks played on the British public since the South Sea Bubble. In urban areas, the passed but not connected effect is of the order of about four per cent – but in rural areas it is 48 per cent.”

The reason so many rural customers have to tolerate low broadband speeds is because a large proportion are situated more than 1.3 km from a cabinet. Cabinets are being connected to the fibre network as a cheaper alternative to providing a fibre connection to the premises for every rural customer.

The government also comes in for criticism from Mr Long: “The Government slaps itself on the back and says ‘job done’ on broadband, but this is a deception going on.”

To support its claims, Broadband for Rural Somerset & Devon has produced a factsheet (PDF) detailing their findings.

In response, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) pointed out that only premises able to receive speeds of at least 24Mbps were counted in its success figures.

Who is correct? Mr Long or the DCMS? If you have the answer, please add it to the comments below.