East Anglian campaign to accelerate rural connectivity

On Friday 21 March, over 60 countryside campaigners and business leaders will gather in Newmarket to support a new campaign for faster roll-out of rural broadband in East Anglia.

The summit, organised and chaired by Norfolk MP and Rural Broadband campaigner George Freeman MP, is being hosted by all the main countryside organisations – the Country Landowners’ Association, National Farmers’ Union, Countryside Alliance and Young Farmers – to discuss how best to campaign to accelerate digital connectivity in the rural economy. It will:

1. Bring together all the countryside bodies from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire in one voice to make the case that East Anglia is a special case where faster rural digital connectivity could unlock a “New California” model of a high tech rural economy and Rural Renaissance.

2. Launch a specific campaign for a Voucher Scheme for the all important “Final Mile” so that the most rural locations can get on now and choose an alternative supplier from the range of alternate providers

3. Access additional Government funding from the new £150M Fund for Mobile Telephone “notspots” to improve rural telecom coverage in the East.

George Freeman MP said: “East Anglia is home to some of the fastest growing businesses and sectors in the UK, but large parts of this region have worse broadband and mobile signal than Africa. With fast digital connectivity, and the improved road and rail links the Government is funding, we can unlock a new model of rural development based on many more small businesses and more people working from or closer to home, which is good for our economy and rural communities. But to that we need modern communications.”

The aim is for all the organisations present to sign a joint Pledge to work together on the campaign, and to take a petition to Government Ministers and work with the telecoms providers to lobby for accelerated investment in the East, supported by the region’s MPs.

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