BUSINESSES are being called on to let council chiefs know of their broadband Internet woes as part of a new lobbying campaign.

Oxfordshire County Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership have launched the ‘OxOnline’ campaign to get Government funding for faster broadband.

Deputy council leader David Robertson said: “Many areas in rural Oxfordshire have very poor or non- existent broadband Internet and mobile phone coverage.

“In this day and age, with more and more services being delivered online, this is simply not acceptable. Fast Internet connections and good mobile phone coverage should be considered essential utilities.

“To many house buyers, broadband access and mobile reception are prerequisites when choosing a place to live.

“Without these things they can’t set up a home office, stay connected to friends and family or take part in other online activities they may have previously enjoyed.”

He said high-speed connections were now essential for businesses, particularly small firms.

Among those backing the campaign are Alison Gurney and Will Harbour of the Sow and Pigs pub in Poundon, near Bicester.

Mr Harbour said: “Some days, as long as no-one between here and Bicester are trying to get on the Internet, it works fine.

“But then as soon as the school children get home and start logging on it’s terrible.

“It feels like it is steam driven.”

Ms Gurney added: “It is annoying. If we had a better signal we could do more for the pub online.”

The Government has establish Broadband Delivery UK to give out cash to county councils and local enterprise partnerships, which bring together the public and private sector.

The county council hopes to put in a bid by the summer for cash to upgrade networks.

Council director of environment and economy, Huw Jones, said: “By signing up to this campaign, Oxfordshire’s residents and businesses will help our efforts to make sure that all communities can access a similar level of broadband that most people in the larger towns and Oxford city already do.”

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