The three main political parties have all promised to improve rural broadband services to the high speeds achieved in urban areas. A huge investment is required to upgrade the infrastructure which is operated by BT. Labour have proposed an additional tax on everybody’s fixed telephone lines, whereas the Conservatives propose to use a element of the BBC licence fee currently being used for the digital switch over to help fund the upgrade.
An ever increasing number of services are becoming primarily available through the internet which will handicap those with either no internet access, or woefully slow speeds. The ‘digital divide’ is growing as the internet service providers (ISPs) continually focus on urban areas which generate a higher profit margin. Perhaps ISPs should be required to invest a certain percentage of their urban profits into rural improvements.
The Prince of Wales has warned that “struggling livestock farmers and rural businesses are trapped in ‘broadband deserts’ unable to access vital services through the Internet”.
It’s admirable that the residents of Lyddington, Rutland have managed to self fund the installation of fibreoptic cable to the village. Rutland Telecom have laid the cable to the main ‘cabinet’ in Lyddington, and then used the existing lines to connect to each house. Sadly, the majority of villages throughout the country will not have these levels of resources.
Hopefully the next government will have a central strategy and take a stronger position with the telecommunications companies, ultimately forcing their hand on the necessary investment.