How the digital divide is being bridged in rural areas

How the digital divide is being bridged in rural areas
rural area broadband

Access to fast broadband and all the information that comes with it is pretty lopsided in the UK. In the biggest cities and large towns which are part of major conurbations, internet speeds and access in general tends to be far greater than that in rural areas, something which many people off the beaten track are up in arms about.

In the slow lane

Slow broadband can be extremely problematic, especially for children who need a fast, reliable connection to help them with learning outside of school hours. The two main causes of slow broadband are lack of availability and expensive rates for superfast connections. Whatever the cause, it’s something that parents, teachers and even politicians are worried by.

David Nuttall, MP for Bury North, is calling funding given to the Greater Manchester area to tackle the problem of access to broadband in rural areas. Talking to the Bury Times, he said:

“Those who live in areas which have very slow broadband access speeds are seriously disadvantaged in this digital age. Although in recent months we have seen some progress — for example in Nangreaves thanks to the hard work of local residents — there is still much to be done.”

Solution from up on high?

While a long-term solution to the problem of slow rural broadband speeds isn’t in the pipeline just yet, something which could prove to be a cheaper and more realistic alternative to installing fibre optic into a home could come to the rescue of many country dwellers. Satellite broadband, although not that well-known, may be useful for individual homes where fast internet speeds are essential.

Andrew Walwyn, CEO of EuropaSat, explained how it could work for individual homes that would otherwise find access to fast broadband restricted:

“Whilst traditional wired broadband providers champion their investment in fibre networks, in reality out of town dwellers are still stuck staring across the digital divide because of their distance from the exchange.

“There’s no Government money available, and it’s not financially viable for the networks, to invest in laying fibre-to-the-home in out of city locations. BT states that it can cost up to £10,000 to install fibre to a single rural home”, he said.

“Many people don’t realise the role satellite broadband has in filling in rural ‘not-spots’ and connecting the last 5% of homes and businesses that will never get fast broadband over wires.

“The latest generation Ka band satellite broadband services offer defined, predictable service levels at reasonable cost, with no geographical discrimination. Using a small set-top box and an outside mini dish it’s now possible to deliver up to 20 Mb fast broadband to any property in the UK or indeed Europe”, he concluded.