I couldn't imagine what life would be like if I didn't have access to broadband. The nearest I come to this is when I'm on holiday abroad in a far away place where the best I can get is GPRS. Even then I need to get a pre-pay SIM card as roaming charges abroad are ridiculously high. I can manage this for a few days, but after this I struggle. I can't upload photos, send or receive file attachments or use many of the interactive tools like Google Maps.
So, what would it be like to live in an area where broadband was not available?
There are still people in the UK suffering this very problem, and that's the reason we've launched a broadband notspot site for those who can't get broadband, or those who can only attain very low speeds.
One of the people that inspired us to do this was Terrie Jones. She lives in the Hambleden Valley between the M4 and M40 motorways around 10-14 miles away from each of High Wycombe, Maidenhead and Reading. She explains that every time she speaks to her phone company, they try to sell her a broadband service even though she tells them of her problems getting broadband, and each time the order fails. Residents in the villages are resorting to a very expensive wireless broadband service, a lifeline to the modern Internet but which comes at a steep price.
"I feel that paying £51.75 per month for simply broadband is extortionate, but I know that other people are paying £8K for fibre to the home. [Someone] I know has given this up and moved his business to Henley because for a quarter of this price he gets office accommodation, broadband, telephone etc."Terrie Jones, a resident in the Hambleden Valley, Buckinghamshire
Residents in such areas struggle to keep up with modern life from filing PAYE/VAT returns, online banking not to mention often being excluded from social media which is becoming an increasingly important part in every day life. Even simple tasks like booking a holiday are more expensive if you don't do so online.
Hambleden suffers from the problem that its telephone lines are routed via the Henley-on-Thames exchange which is quite a fair way away, beyond the reach of current generation broadband. At present, residents are able to subscribe to a wireless broadband service, a lifeline which is not available in every other broadband not-spot, but this comes at a premium cost.
Managing Expectations: Digital Britain Report
The Digital Britain Report due out next month is likely to recommend a Universal Service Obligation which will guarantee everyone in the UK can receive a 2Mbps broadband service by 2012 and we hope that it will also take into consideration a number of issues not highlighted sufficiently in the Interim report:
"The speed for universal service needs to move with the technology, so no system should be put in place that is inflexible and no actions (like removing telephone substations! as in Hambleden) without ensuring that this would not impact in the future any further telecommunications developments"Terrie Jones, a resident in the Hambleden Valley, Buckinghamshire
If you can't get broadband or you are getting sustained speeds below 2Mbps because of your geographical location (i.e. not because you choose to subscribe to a slower service, because you suffer occasional slow-downs or your ISP is limiting you due to excessive use), please register on Broadband Notspot.
We will use the data gathered to help inform the debate on broadband coverage and, if possible, help users to work together to get everyone in the UK connected. Also, you can discuss your broadband coverage problem on our notspot forum.