CONCERNS still remain about rural areas being well connected to the internet.

Ofcom’s annual Connected Nations report, which measures progress in the availability and capability of broadband and mobile services in the UK, has been published.

Responding to the report, CLA president Mark Bridgeman said: “While minor improvements to connectivity have been made, it’s clear that little progress on increasing 4G and broadband coverage in rural areas has been achieved.

“The current 4G growth in rural areas has completely slowed down with minimal increases on last year when there should be significant increases year-on-year.

"This lack of growth does little for the rural economy and for those who live and work in the countryside.

"The roll-out of 4G coverage has come to a standstill and the way for progress to be made is if Government invests in infrastructure, rather than planning.

“Reassurances are also desperately needed on whether rural communities will receive gigabit capable broadband by 2025, following the Government’s U-turn to only invest £1.2bn of the £5bn pledged in the 2019 election campaign.

“With only 27 per cent of homes receiving this level of coverage and a lack of investment and infrastructure in place, Government must come forward with robust measures on how its long-term targets will be met.

"Otherwise, the rural economy will be left behind once again.”

CLA North rural adviser, Libby Bateman, said there was some assistance out there.

She added: “It is disappointing to hear about the lack of progress of superfast broadband delivery in rural area, however there is much that rural residents and business owners can do to speed-up this process.

“The Rural Gigabit Connection Voucher scheme is open for applications until the end of March and I strongly advise anybody wishing to upgrade their broadband infrastructure to take a closer look at the scheme which will give £1,500 per residential property and £3,500 per business property towards the cost of upgrading fixed-line infrastructure.

“In some areas these vouchers are being match-funded by other bodies such as the Borderlands Growth Deal or local authorities.

"Communities may find that if they aggregate their vouchers they can accumulate a sizeable contribution towards the infrastructure upgrades required to improve their broadband service.”