Just how much is broadband worth to people living in rural areas? Back in 2008 Cable and Wireless won a contract to provide a service to some 50 people in the Duddon Valley and Branthwaite area of Cumbria, but it appears that now the Government subsidies are coming to an end, C&W are to withdraw the service, citing that it is 'not commercially viable'.
The original service cost some £500,000 to install, which if covering 50 people, means it has cost £200 per month since 2008. A sum that could very easily have paid for full fibre to the premises for these people.
If a similar spending spree took place to connect the most rural 10% of UK households we would be looking at spending, £26 billion, hardly a scale-able solution and given that there are commercial operators providing fixed wireless solutions around the UK without these level of subsidies, some serious questioning of what Cable and Wireless were charging needs to take place.
The area in theory should benefit from the Connecting Cumbria project, which should announce the successful bidder next month, with the work starting in the Autumn, but if getting the service to this area is so difficult, then these 50 people may be stuck with satellite access as the only solution, which while adequate for many business tasks is still not a level of service people would opt for usually.