Ofcom is prematurely claiming victory in closing the digital divide today, as its annual review of communications markets reveals that for the first time broadband uptake by country folk has overtaken that of urbanites. Taking the UK as a whole, 59 per cent of rural households are now hooked up, compared to 57 per cent in the …
Speed is an issue though
Adoption isnt the only part of the story. Speed of adoption is also an issue. Many countryside areas are saddled with <2meg and due to the distances ADSL2+ wont make much of a difference.
I heard this on the radio news this morning and my immediate reaction was... so what? Is this news? Is it in ANY way interesting?
Frankly, who cares?
BT tells us there aren't enough people using broadband in rural areas to justify investment in improving the quality of lines.
Damn right speed is an issue
I get 0.5 Meg if I'm lucky because of my distance from the exchange - not exactly great for all these online services every business is trying to shove down my throat.
Underrepresentation in cities?
Here in N1 0 (Kings Cross), I'm officially not on broadband, if you ask the companies (or psychological torturers, if you don't consider e.g. Tiscali a company).
However, I'm paying a neighbour to share wifi (WPA). And I can see a cafe's open wifi. Etc.
So how did ofcom get these numbers, from the ISPs or from surveys? Both methods have their flaws I guess.
IT IS NEWS!!!
If you live in a rural place or fekkin miles from the Exchange - this story is useful.
If the story doesn't concern/interest you, don't read it and fuck off posting useless comments you stupid prick!
It's about time RURAL people had more power, perhaps the shift to a larger subscriber base will give us the leverage we need to start the provisioning companies on an 'upgrade' path to give us respectable download speeds when compared to 'Urban' users.
...strangely seems to be in NTL's old colours...
Lies, damn lies and statistics
Obviously there is a bigger percentage of country bumpkins on broadband because there are fewer houses in the countryside (what with their massive million acre 'backyards') compared to the slum dwellling city folk who live stacked up ontop of each other. Pysically there are more people/living quarters in cities so the percentages quoted are as useful as an Asus EEE running Vista !
My coats the one without the green wellies under it...
"People who are poorer buy less stuff"
Rural people often rich, urban people often poor shocker
It costs more to live in the countryside (have you seen the price of petrol?), therefore it should come as no surprise that a higher percentage of rural people have broadband, because there is a higher percentage of rich people.
What this totally fails to address is rural poverty. There are more people classified as below the poverty line in rural areas in the UK than there are in any one major city. Rural poor outnumber London poor. Rural poor outnumber Manchester poor.
This is a problem for rural connectivity because cheap broadband is not available and there is little competition (there is essentially one monopoly - BT ADSL wholesale - who are resold in a number of guises, but never below the BT ADSL wholesale price). There are no cable providers, no local loop unbundling and no 3G coverage, so whilst a poor family in the city can afford 5-quid-a-month LLU broadband, this simply isn't available to poor families in the countryside.
Townies often ask "why don't they just move?" but the problem is that most of those who can, already have. The remainders are so poor, they can't. Rural poor live in run-down, low-demand housing, notably council houses which they may have bought at a discount, but their inability to refurbish their house means the value has not kept pace with the market. They can't get a job, or a better job, because they typically don't have cars or, if they do, can't afford to run them more than a couple of trips per week. They can't use public transport because buses and trains rely on large groups of people at point A all wanting to go to point B, and in rural areas, not only are the no large groups of people, but there is no common agreement on what points A and B are (typically there will be half a dozen nearby small towns, and no large city; the buses, if they exist at all, won't serve all the towns from all the villages).
The answer? Well, for connectivity BT WBMC looks promising, and 3G coverage is always expanding. And rural poverty? Ironically, the answer may well lie in telecommuting.
The real measure should be the percentage of poor connected, not the percentage of the populations as a whole.
It were all fields round here when I were a lad - and it still is
Danny wrote: Many countryside areas are saddled with <2meg and due to the distances ADSL2+ wont make much of a difference
To be honest, the lack of ADSL2 isn't really the problem. Download speed hasn't been an issue in rural areas since the inception of cheap all-you-can-eat ISDN. What matters is all-inclusive always-on connectivity and low latency (low ping times). Most non-video websites function perfectly acceptably on 128kbps so long as your ping is under 150ms, even flash stuff, and you can schedule anything really heavy overnight.
Download speed matters for video, but in a rural area you will typically get superb Freesat reception and usually good Freeview reception (less tall townhouses and no skyscrapers blocking your line-of-sight, not to mention no neighbours to whine about where you put your satellite dish), which combined with the new generation of dirt-cheap DVR/PVRs mean that the demand for video-over-IP is far less.
I would count myself as an extremely heavy internet user (run my own SMTP, work from home remotely), yet my rural Gloucestershire farmworker's cottage is limited to 2Mb/s (BT exchange is five hundred yards as the crow flies... or four kilometres as the cable runs through two other villages first). My parents in rural Shropshire have 512kbps and I can't honestly tell the difference whilst web browsing or remote working. To be honest I don't really notice much difference between ADSL and the unmetered ISDN "BT Home Highway" service I had at the turn of 2000; it certainly wasn't the huge step-change from modem to ISDN. If I want to download a video, it's the same procedure under ADSL as it was under ISDN; schedule a cron job for the early hours.
If the change from 128kbps to 512kbps or 2Mbps didn't make much difference, I really can't see what the fuss about 8Mb/s or 24Mb/s is. I've used 16Mb/s at work, and again, other than really, really massive file downloads, there is no huge paradigm shift for typical web browsing or remote working.
What matters is ping time, always on, unmetered, and a minimum 128kbps. ADSL2+ already provides this.
What matters is getting ADSL prices down to a level where they compete with cable and LLU, which aren't available in rural areas. I have to pay 24 quid a month for my 50GB/month download allowance ADSL, which in the town I could get for half that price or less.
Re: rural people often rich blah blah
"It costs more to live in the countryside (have you seen the price of petrol?), therefore it should come as no surprise that a higher percentage of rural people have broadband, because there is a higher percentage of rich people."
If logic is in the large drawing room with the crackling fire, then you are still down at the gatehouse. Simply because it is more expensive to live in a rural area does not mean the inhabitants of rural counties are richer. They may simply have less disposable income.
Rural areas tend to have crap speeds compared to towns. That they have fractionally more broadband take-up is wholly negated by the poor speeds.
There are many out there who are on speeds that barely qualify as broadband. The only real benefit over dial-up to them is not tying up the phone line while surfing.
Though there are many exceptions though and it's quite common also to have dire speeds in towns whilst seemingly not so far from the exchange, especially where the layout of towns results in cables taking a very non-direct route to the exchange.
For rural customers though, stats like these may not be such good news as it just takes the pressure off BT to roll out better broadband.
Lies, damn lies, and statistics
Nu Labour needs something to feel good about. Ofcom serves it up, just like it's supposed to. Nu Labour happy that rural bumpkins are not disadvantaged, and therefore do not need to be positively discriminated for. (Well, what proposition would you use in the opposite of "discriminated against"?). Ofcom also demonstrating to the NuCons that it is highly fIT4purpose and shouldn't suffer the bum's rush in due course.
So price of 3 bed semi in country vs 3 bed semi in Central London... Mmmmm lets see.... nope don't see many £500,000 3 beds in my village.
By urban, they also mean city centres, where quite often, prices are vastly overpriced (sorry, more exclusive) than country houses.
Now I'm off home to my pretty little village away from ASBO city that I'm forced to endure 5 days a week....
50mb cable in a shite hole or less than 3mb in a nice place...who cares about speed!
Social networking and online shopping also more popular in rural areas
We did some additional analysis using Hitwise data, and both online shopping and social networking are also relatively more popular in rural areas.
"Obviously there is a bigger percentage of country bumpkins on broadband because there are fewer houses in the countryside (what with their massive million acre 'backyards') compared to the slum dwellling city folk"
A little message to all the "Shitty prickers" out there... just because people live in a rural area, it doesn't mean we all stand around in jerkins and wellies, chewing on straw while debating how our cooows are doing up in t' top field.
There's a lot of technology-based firms out in the rural areas, and a lot of smart people working here (smart because they get to live in a nice, smog-free environment and still do a clever job that brings in the moolah), so don't assume just cos we live outside the M25 chastity belt that we're all thick-as-pig-shit farmers who married our own cousins, OK?
That includes you, Chris Williams. Try stepping outside of the bright lights, big city, and actually go meet some of the people in rural areas before you label us all Bumpkins.