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South East Euro MP Sharon Bowles welcomes EU plans to boost rural broadband speeds

October 18, 2011 8:30 AM
By Sharon Bowles MEP (subsequently edited by Surrey County Council Liberal Democrats)

Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles, who represents South East England in the European Parliament, welcomed the announcement by the European Commission to invest in boosting broadband speeds across the EU.

The Commission is expected to announce an investment plan of approximately 9.2 billion Euros (approximately £8 billion), which is partly designed to improve broadband speeds in rural areas. The funding is planned for 2014 - 2020 and it is hoped that private investors, bolstered by the news, will follow suit.

Sharon, who also chairs the Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said: "This new plan by the European Commission to invest in rural broadband is welcome news because, despite recent investment in the UK, parts of the South East are still stuck in the Stone Age."

"For example, a recent price comparison by uSwitch revealed that Cranbrook in Kent had the worst download speed in the UK and between them, Kent and Sussex host six of the country's top 20 slowest-speed towns and villages. With large-scale EU investment these broadband black spots can be a thing of the past."

"Also, with efforts to supply rural parts of the UK with faster broadband comes the promise of new jobs. It is important, in the current economic climate, that there is investment in infrastructure, especially in areas which encourage growth, and for this reason I wholeheartedly support the Commission's digital agenda."