Poor broadband is undermining rural society as people move away to live in towns and cities where connection speeds are better, the National Housing Federation (NHF) has said.
The organisation warned that young people, in particular, were turning their backs on the countryside because of the poor facilities.
The lack of broadband is also discouraging businesses from setting up in the countryside, reducing employment and adding to the exodus as people look elsewhere for work, the NHF report said.
It added a pattern had emerged where young people left for university and were unable to return. As a result, rural populations were shrinking and the average age of rural households was on the rise.
“By 2039, the number of working age households in England is projected to fall by 1% in rural areas while increasing in urban areas by nearly 11%,” the report said.
Further analysis showed almost half of rural householders would be aged 65 and over within that time.
And the problem is being made worse by poor public transport and a lack of affordable homes in countryside areas, the organisation warned.
David Orr, chief executive at the federation, said: “Rural life as we know it is disappearing fast.
“Families and young people wanting to settle, work and grow in rural England are being priced out of areas they’ve known all their lives.”
But Mr Orr said housing associations were offering some hope and he appealed for further incentive for affordable homes.
“Just a handful of high quality and affordable new homes can transform rural communities, and ensure our villages and market towns can thrive for generations to come.”