Broadband: a Digital Divide

By: Liam G

As consumers and providers alike are all to well aware, broadband speeds experienced within metropolitan areas far exceed that of speeds experienced within rural parts of the country.

With super-fast broadband, or ADSL+2 scheduled for roll out next year, some predict the divide is only going to widen.

Predictions show that people living in rural areas could even be waiting decades before they experience speeds close to that of their metropolitan counterparts.

As mentioned, next year, BT plans to implement its 'next generation' ADSL (ADSL+2) which promises speeds of up to 24Mbps.

As with the current broadband situation though, your average speed will depend greatly on how far you are from your nearest BT exchange. And for some rural residence, this can be hundreds of miles.

Rural consumer concerns not only lie with the speed that they receive though, but also the extra cost they have to pay.

"There is a growing digital divide as people in built-up urban areas are able to take advantage of cheaper broadband and 'free' line rental, while those in the country are left languishing on more expensive packages" said Michael Phillips from Broadbandchoices.co.uk.

"Unbundled services" is the term given to when a provider (ie. Tiscali, TalkTalk, Pipex, etc) installs their own equipment within one of BTs exchanges. This allows providers to offer consumers far more competitive broadband deals than they would prior to unbundling.

As this can cost providers anything in the region of ?30,000 though, they tend to reserve such services to urban areas, where development tends to be more cost effective.

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