Bad news for rural Britain as digital divide deepens

Plans to make Britain’s broadband the best in Europe are in danger of stalling as the rural population of the UK falls further behind their city cousins.

This was the warning given today by Chief Analyst Tim Johnson of analyst Point Topic who was speaking at the NextGen10 conference in Birmingham.

“Our analysis of the rural-urban digital divide doesn’t paint a rosy picture,” said Mr Johnson. Broadband speeds and costs are very sensitive to distance and population density he points out. “The higher speeds which people will expect and need in future will simply not be available in the countryside unless radical action is taken,” he declared.

Point Topic has used its database of the broadband geography of the UK to calculate the percentage coverage of six different measures of broadband infrastructure, area by area. Rural areas are well behind urban ones on every one of them. The six indicators can be combined to provide a single Broadband Infrastructure Index (BII). The urban areas of Britain scored 67% on this index as of mid-2010, the rural areas only 25%.