UK facing a 'broadband divide' between urban and rural

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Broadband modemAccording to the Scotsman, Scotland faces a new ‘broadband divide’ caused by a lack of competition between broadband providers in more rural areas.

A new report entitled “Next Generation Broadband in Scotland” analysed the state of Scottish broadband provision, and whilst it found that high-speed Net access is now available to almost all of the Scottish population – potentially adding £3.4bn to the country’s GVA by 2015 – it also raises questions about second-generation (5Mbps and above) broadband availability in more remote areas.

It notes that, “a new ‘broadband divide’ has already started to open up between urban and rural areas, in terms of the availability of 2B [second-gen broadband]. Our expectation is that 26 per cent of Scotland’s population will remain unable to access such services in the foreseeable future.”

It also looked at ultra-high speed broadband of 50Mbps and greater speed (3B): “Whereas the roll-out of 1B and 2B services in rural areas require upgrades, the bandwidths associated with 3B+ services go beyond the capabilities of the legacy BT copper access infrastructure and necessitate the extension of fibre deep into the access [network].

“There would be major costs associated with such a roll-out, and, in areas with no competition, relatively little incentive for BT or anyone else to risk such an investment. Approximately 44 per cent of Scotland’s population will remain unable to access 3B+ services in 2015.”

Of course it’s not purely a Scottish issue, and broadband provision and available bandwidth does seem a little flaky at time. Even in the suburbs of major towns maximum broadband speed is not always near the ‘golden’ 8Mbps that ‘2nd generation’ broadband is supposed to supply.

(Via The Scotsman)

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Andy Merrett