By Daniel Hunter

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has today (Tuesday) welcomed the government's recognition that its targets on broadband fall short on what is required.

Mike Cherry, National Policy Chairman of the FSB, said: “It is encouraging to see that the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee agrees with us that the Government’s broadband strategy is not ambitious enough, and backs our call for the introduction of a universal minimum target of 10Mbps to all premises.

“Recent FSB research on the issue of broadband shows that nearly half of rural small firms are currently unhappy with their broadband provision. Considering that Ofcom recently discovered that just 16 per cent of rural small businesses have access to superfast broadband services, this is hardly surprising. Further FSB research also found that these businesses see themselves becoming even more reliant on good connections over the next two years, meaning we must get this issue right.

“To ensure that our broadband infrastructure is fit for purpose, we’d like to see the introduction of a universal service floor of 10Mbps by 2018/19, rising to a guaranteed minimum broadband speed of 100Mbps by 2030. As increasing numbers of Government services are placed online, it is vital that the Government delivers this access to all communities.”

Over the weekend, BT was accused of "vastly overestimating" the cost of supplying broadband to rural areas by MPs.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said it would cost around £92m less than BT claimed.

"Although it's reassuring that the cost to the public purse could end up being £92m (25%) less than what BT had originally forecast in its bid, I worry that this does not stack up with what BT told my committee in 2013 - that it factors in a contingency of between 5% and 8%, which might not get spent, a much smaller proportion than 25%," Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, told the BBC.

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