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Rural areas at back of the queue for internet, claims politician

North Shropshire | News | Published:

Rural businesses can't plan for the future while the countryside is at the back of the queue for superfast broadband, it was claimed today.

Russell George, AM for Montgomeryshire

Politicians will gather for a summit on March 20 in a bid to improve the coverage in our region.

It will be hosted by Welsh Assembly member Russell George, who today said areas on both sides of the Shropshire border are severely handicapped by the patchy internet service.

Welsh government minister Julie James has agreed to attend the summit.

It comes after the boss of Open Reach visited areas of north Shropshire to see for himself the problems faced by rural communities. Chief executive Clive Selley discussed issues in towns including Market Drayton, Whitchurch and Oswestry.

Mr George said: "We can no longer afford to be the poor relation when it comes to fibre broadband.

"I'm delighted that the minister has agreed to attend this important broadband summit, which will be an invaluable opportunity for community leaders from across Montgomeryshire to question Government on its plans to improve broadband coverage.

"It remains a significant concern to me that many rural communities across Montgomeryshire appear to be excluded from the fibre broadband upgrade or, at the very least, are at the back of the queue when it comes to receiving superfast speeds."

He said some progress had been made, but added: "There are many areas that still find themselves with inadequate broadband, with only two thirds of premises able to receive superfast speeds.

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"The reality is that we, in North Powys, are some way off receiving universal access to next generation broadband. The goalposts have been repeatedly moved and businesses have been unable to plan for the future.

"We should press the minister to bring forward a concrete timescale for the extension of superfast broadband to every property.

"Whether connecting with family and friends, helping children to study from home, or driving growth for local businesses, digital connectivity is now critical to our day-to-day lives and the wider economy."

Community leaders and other representatives will be able to question Julie James, who has overall responsibility for the Superfast Cymru fibre broadband scheme.

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