Rural Areas Has Better Broadband Access Than Urban Areas

By: Karra Maxim
Ofcom has just released its regional communications market report and it boasts some rather unusual results. Indeed, the report shows that rural households have a higher rate of broadband connections than those who live in urban areas for the first time ever.

The report’s surprising results showed that 59% of rural households were connected to broadband services, while just 57% of urban households boasted broadband connections. Just four years ago, residents of urban areas were twice as likely to have broadband connections as those who lived in rural areas.

Peter Phillips, who is Ofcom's strategy and market developments partner, expressed his surprise at the report’s findings. He said: “I don't think anyone would have predicted two or three years ago that we would have seen the picture that we can see today. If you look back two or three years, rural areas were well behind where urban areas were in terms of broadband take-up and that was driven by a number of factors.” Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, was also surprised by the findings and said that they signify a real closing of the digital divide in the UK. He said: “Our report highlights a closing of the geographical digital divide in the UK. Rural households are today as well connected to broadband as their urban neighbours.”

In addition to these findings, the Ofcom report also showed that there were huge differences in the number of broadband connections in different areas of the UK. It indicated that Sunderland was the best-connected city in the UK with a substantial 66% of households boasting broadband access and a massive 96% with digital television. At the bottom of the league was Glasgow, which, at just 32%, has the lowest rate of broadband connections in the UK.
Apart from Glasgow, broadband was far more popular in other areas of Scotland. In Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee, broadband rates are all significantly higher than the UK average. It’s the same story in the remote Scottish Highlands and Islands, which has broadband connections in an impressive 62% of homes. The high rate of broadband in these areas is attributed to a major drive that intended to bring broadband to every corner of Scotland, which helped to sustain local communities. Peter Phillips said that buying goods online was more popular in areas like this that don’t have well-stocked high streets “for obvious reasons of convenience.” He said: “In total, about three-quarters of rural internet users say they use the internet for transactions as well as for information whereas for the UK as a whole it's lower than that, it's about 69%.”
Ofcom obtained the results for its reports by surveying television, radio, internet and telecoms habits in the UK.
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