In addition to the normal release of Ready for Service dates this week brings confirmation of the service dates for the BT exchanges covered by the Wiltshire SmartPlace scheme.
As can be seen a number of exchanges had made it without any help, though publicity of the scheme will have helped to some extent. Then there are exchanges like Purton which still had no trigger set that BT are now going to enable - so the people and businesses in that area will certainly benefit. Critics of the money spent in these schemes like to point out that many exchanges would have eventually reached their trigger, but somewhere like Cricklade would probably have taken until June 2004 to reach its trigger, so the scheme has had a positive effect. Regional Development agency schemes will always look odd to the public because their focus is invariably not on getting home users connected, but producing some form of economic benefit to businesses. Fortunately with schemes that result in a BT exchange gaining ADSL, home users benefit also.
The largest criticism we have seen of almost all the RDA schemes is the amount of money involved which is often earmarked for education and assistance for small businesses. For many this looks a waste of money, but perhaps in light of a survey this week that shows even among home computers 70% of people do not know what a 'Wi-Fi hotspot' is, then it may be money well spent. Small businesses whose focus is not the IT industry often struggle to find independent affordable accurate IT information, which is where the RDA money comes into things.
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