RURAL BROADBAND: WHY DOES IT MATTER?
The Commission for Rural Communities argues that the economic and social case for a networked nation is overwhelming. Access to the internet can create benefits through higher educational attainment for children, access to employment opportunities for workless adults, improved standards of living for older people and increased democratic engagement and access to information.
Broadband providers are competing with each other to continuously improve their services, offering ever increasing speeds and quality, but people in rural areas often have very limited choice and many do not have access to anywhere near the speeds or quality of connection offered in urban areas.
This widening digital divide exacerbates the issues facing many rural communities because of their difficulties in accessing high speed internet services, and rural communities risk falling further behind their urban counterparts over the next few years as market forces alone will not deliver high speed broadband to many rural areas – although demand for good broadband in rural areas is at least as strong as in urban areas, a combination of factors such as distances between properties and the nearest telephone exchange, and population density means that broadband network operators and service providers focus on urban markets.
Rural communities lack of comparable access to high quality broadband is having, and will continue to have, a number of economic impacts: on rural businesses, on people living in rural communities and on public service providers, as well as social and personal impacts for people in rural areas.
The lack of modern ICT infrastructure (telephone, mobile and broadband) in too much of rural England was one of the strongest messages we heard from rural businesses and communities over the last year. Rural businesses need effective infrastructure to be successful and to realise their potential and to contribute to national economic growth.
Rural Broadband can be downloaded here.