GET­TING UP TO SPEED

Sussex Life - - Front Page -

There isn’t much that’s more frus­trat­ing than a slow in­ter­net con­nec­tion, and this is some­thing that many of us liv­ing out in the coun­try­side are all too fa­mil­iar with. How­ever, thanks to tire­less cam­paign­ing by the CLA and the Na­tional Farm­ers Union (NFU), con­nect­ing ru­ral ar­eas with su­per­fast broad­band should now be eas­ier.

A fixed broad­band line has been ne­go­ti­ated, as well as a wayleave agree­ment and a Me­moran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing be­tween Open­reach, the CLA and the NFU. This is de­signed to make it eas­ier for Open­reach, Bri­tain’s lead­ing dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture provider, to reach agree­ments with landown­ers over lo­ca­tions and pay­ment rates for ca­bles and other elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions ap­pa­ra­tus. As a re­sult, it is hoped that far more peo­ple in our ru­ral ar­eas will have a faster in­ter­net con­nec­tion, with the agree­ment of­fi­cially com­ing into op­er­a­tion last month on 1 Oc­to­ber.

It has long been the mis­sion of the CLA to nar­row the vari­a­tions in in­ter­net speed be­tween ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas across the re­gion. CLA deputy pres­i­dent Mark Bridge­man says: “Landown­ers are a com­mit­ted and cru­cial part of the so­lu­tion to al­le­vi­ate the ru­ralur­ban dig­i­tal di­vide. It has taken al­most 18 months of hard ne­go­ti­a­tion, but we have se­cured an agree­ment that sat­is­fies the gov­ern­ment, the in­fra­struc­ture providers and our mem­bers.”

NFU vice pres­i­dent Stu­art Roberts also recog­nises that lack of in­ter­net ac­cess in ru­ral ar­eas is a press­ing is­sue, but says that this agree­ment is paving the way for a faster fu­ture.

“This ini­tia­tive marks an­other step for­ward for en­sur­ing that our mem­bers have all they need to es­tab­lish and main­tain pro­duc­tive, prof­itable and pro­gres­sive farm­ing busi­nesses.”

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