A tax on telephone landlines will not raise enough money to speed up rural internet connections, say business leaders.
Digital minister Stephen Timms has pledged that a 50p a month “broadband tax” will be imposed on everyone with a fixed phone line before the next election.
Money raised would be spent on bringing faster broadband to the countryside.
But the Country Land and Business Association said revenue from the tax would be much less than the amount required.
It would only contribute around £175m towards the future of nationwide superfast broadband, which would cost significantly more.
“While the levy is welcome, it is nowhere near enough to secure future rural broadband provision,” said CLA president Henry Aubrey-Fletcher.
“What is needed – on top of this levy – is a partnership of private and public funding.”
The government and internet providers needed to be more innovative if faster, reliable broadband was to be extended to the countryside.
“Without this, rural businesses will continue to suffer and the digital divide will grow.”