Demand for broadband higher in rural areas
The demand for broadband in rural areas will be of little surprise to people living in these regions, or those who get contacted asking for information on how they can get broadband. With the rapidly rising costs of both personal and public transport, the ability of broadband to bring the shops to your own home, or work from home even just one day a week can save a worthwhile amount of money.
Ofcom has published its analysis of the communications markets around the regions and nations of the UK, and this is the first time since 2003 that broadband take-up in rural areas (59%) has exceeded that of urban areas (57%).
|Year||UK urban areas take-up||UK rural areas take-up|
The division between rural and urban around the the UK is perhaps more revealing.
|Area||Urban take-up||Rural take-up|
Whether the current growth in demand can continue is of course a great unknown, but what is interesting is that the vast amount of choice of up to 8Mbps (ADSL), up to 24Mbps (ADSL2+) and 20Mbps cable broadband services in most urban area does not appear to mean the take-up is greater.
|UK City||Broadband Take-up|
The difference in take-up is much more marked between the various cities in the UK, with Glasgow showing only a 32% take-up compared to the national average of 57%.
The digital divide which is often mentioned as a danger, seems to exist in several forms.
- Those who can and cannot get broadband in any reasonable form. Figures of 99% or better availability are often mentioned, but no complete analysis has ever been published for the UK wide picture. Lack of broadband is not solely a rural issue as cities can still have pockets with no coverage.
- The division between those in areas with cable and LLU broadband who have access to ever faster services, which can at times offer higher speeds at a lower price than is available in rural areas.
- Social inclusion, those families able to afford a computer can take advantage of things like online billing and the various discounts available. This means those less well off and unable to afford the ongoing subscription of broadband and costs of owning a computer can find common services costing more even though they have a smaller income.
It seems amazing that across the UK as a whole only 30% of adults have watched TV or video online given that video streaming has existed for many years. If the figure is for all adults, i.e. includes those who have no broadband connection, it would seem a more reasonable figure. The difference in the last year has been the amount of plugs it gets in the mainstream media. Oddly while England, Scotland and Northern Ireland manage a 3 in 10 adult figure for this metric Wales is lower at just 24% of adults. The low level of video viewing in Wales seems to be a reflection of the low take-up in the country.