Communications minister Lord Carter, who is preparing the extensive Digital Britain report, has said that much of the country is unlikely to get high-speed, next-generation broadband.
Carter told the Telegraph on Monday that there will "certainly be 25-30 per cent of the country where there will be no economic case for building a next generation fixed network".
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) responded with a statement in which it said Carter had confirmed fears that "rural Britain is being left behind in the race for super-fast broadband".
"This digital urban/rural divide is getting out of control," CLA president Henry Aubrey-Fletcher said in the statement. "It is time for the hyperbole to stop and for Government to consider the damage it is doing to rural areas and, in particular, businesses."
Aubrey-Fletcher went on to say that the economy is being divided because "many rural businesses simply cannot compete with their urban rivals".
"School classes are split because of some children's inability to do set homework online," he said. "Communities are being divided because people are seeking to move to a home that has broadband."
The interim Digital Britain report, which came out at the end of January, promised universal access to broadband, with minimum connection speeds of 2Mbps, across the UK by 2012. How that is going to happen with no business case existing for a rollout across a quarter of the country is not clear, though, as the government is yet to commit to funding this rollout itself.