Aviemore moves closer to broadband for all
BBC News Online has a news item, highlighting some of the problems of the digital divide between the haves and have-nots in the more rural areas of the UK. Aviemore has a population of around 2,600 residents, and saw its exchange enabled for ADSL back in October 2004. The BBC News article mentions the problems of long telephone lines, but ignores the changes in the limits from September 2004, which mean that people with reasonable quality lines of 7 or 8km and sometimes longer can get a 0.5Mbps service at least.
The Scottish Executive is currently in a procurement phase to bring broadband in one form or another to 50,000 to 70,000 households in the region. Their key aim is to bring a service to rural areas that is roughly the same price and quality as what can be obtained in urban areas. Interestingly it seems local feelings are running high, and some are going for the DIY approach to bring broadband to the area that exceeds the 0.5Mbps most people are likely to get from ADSL, and to avoid the problems of lowest common denominator provision.
The BBC article draws many comparisons with the railway systems which saw many stations closing in the 1960's, but the reason behind this was that many stations were under utilised. There is a great danger in a push for 'broadband for all' that it will be available to all, but only a small percentage may use it. This may lead to access systems finding themselves left behind investment wise, and forever needing government backing to keep them working. This means that any community or commercial system needs to look into how it will cope long term, particularly after any initial RDA funding has run out.