Government proposals to for a “broadband tax” to pay for rolling out internet services fail to recognise the importance of rural broadband cover, according to the Country Land and Business Association.

Digital Britain, a long-awaited government-backed report, suggests all broadband users should pay a 50p a month levy to help fund increased broadband coverage across the country.

The report also suggested using an estimated £200m surplus from digital switchover funds to achieve a universal service of 2Mbps by 2012.

However Henry Aubrey Fletcher, CLA president, said the aim was short-sighted and called for a 5Mbps target for all under the universal service commitment.

“As more people gain access to broadband, the strain on the service will increase and speeds will slow,” said Mr Aubrey-Fletcher.

“Just 2Mbps will not be sufficient for most applications.”

Mr Aubrey-Fletcher said government needed to be more visionary in its approach and suggested rural communities should piggy-back on unused public sector bandwidth.

Without clear commitment from the government, rural areas would become digital age outcasts, he added.