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Scotland Faces Rural Broadband Divide

Posted: 22nd Jan, 2007 By: MarkJ
The first report into the economic impact of broadband technology has found a growing divide in Scotland. Lack of service competition in rural areas means that faster connections are not being made available:

Commissioned from economic development consultants SQW and entitled Next Generation Broadband in Scotland, the 150-page report is the first to analyse the present and future benefits of the Scottish Executive's "Broadband for Scotland" programme, made in conjunction with BT.

According to the report, the availability of broadband technology will add £3.4 billion to the country's gross value added (GVA) by 2015, or roughly 5 per cent of the total annual market-sector GVA.

But the document also raises questions about the future direction of Scotland's broadband promotion policy. Referring to the already available second-generation broadband - 2B - which, at 5MB per second, is ten times faster than standard broadband connections, it said: "Our study confirms that a new 'broadband divide' has already started to open up between urban and rural areas, in terms of the availability of 2B. Our expectation is that 26 per cent of Scotland's population will remain unable to access such services in the foreseeable future."

Unfortunately The Scotsman's article raises concern over an issue that is far from restricted to Scotland and in fact spans much of the UK.

Rural exchanges often suffer from a lack of development, while the UK's most prevalent ADSL broadband technology gets slower the further away you reside from it. Most residents in rural areas often live some distance from the exchange.

Elsewhere the report hails the overall economic impact broadband has had in Scotland, highlighting room for improvement. Sadly it offers no real solution for those that live too far from their exchange to get a faster service. Forthcoming ADSL2+ technology may bring a slight improvement, but nothing significant.
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