Huge strides have been made in delivering broadband to all parts of the UK, with nearly one in three receiving superfast Broadband.
Ofcom’s strategic review concluded that this improvement has been down to a number of government initiatives, yet 54% of those living in rural areas are not satisfied with the government’s programme to improve broadband in rural areas.
A report titled ‘Digital Britain’ set out a vision to use digital to boost the UK economy after the recent economic downturn. The aim is to complement and assist the private sector in delivering the effective modern communications infrastructure we need through new technology,whilst ensuring that people have the capabilities and skills to flourish and partake in a ‘digital society’. This notion has recently been supported by David Cameron, who set out his vision, of super-fast broadband for all UK Homes and business by 2020. He declared that it is their fundamental right to receive this level of service, adding that it would be a legal right to affordable broadband .
We are now living in a digital age, broadband has become a necessity and this is no different in rural areas yet the provision is not as readily available. Countryside Alliance continues to lobby for an improved and more reliable service delivery. Customers now see internet access as an essential part of life, alongside water, electricity, and gas. This is mirrored in Countryside Alliance most recent study which saw 82% of those surveyed believing super-fast broadband is essential to everyday life.
Their main argument is that businesses located in rural areas are at a serious disadvantage due to the variations in broadband quality, consequently restricting the growth in the rural economy. SME’s starting up in the current digital landscape are opting to set up in major cities, for most part due to the reliable and fast broadband. They are demanding a basic level of 10 Mbps to all business premises by 2018/19.
It’s not only business which is hampered by poor broadband levels, education is also affected with children being taught in rural areas at a disadvantage, in school and at home. A large number of services are now digitised, most notably government forms such as Tax forms etc and with a greater number of banks turning to digitised services as well as certain health provision, and this trend looks like it will continue on an upward trajectory.
The future of broadband in rural areas is uncertain; the UK government continue to invest to improve services with over £1 billion given to BT for broadband improvements in remote areas. This has been met with concern by many, most notably Virgin Media who have called for an end to state subsidy. Crucially rural broadband expansion will need to be commercially viable, for Private companies to continue to pursue and develop.
Salford Professional Development are hosting the Future of Telecommunications Conference which is taking place on the 10th of February. The conference will explore the importance of government initiatives to the telecommunications industry, and the UK economy. The current confirmed line-up includes Dr Mike Short, of Telefonica and David Linge Professor in telecommunications at Salford University. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased from our dedicated conference page.
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