Rural Areas More Connected Than Urban Areas

By: Maria Literral
According to Ofcom’s regional communications market report, rural households are now more likely to have broadband connections than those who live in urban areas. Indeed, the report’s surprising results indicated that 59% of rural households had broadband services, compared to 57% in urban homes.

The Ofcom report, which surveyed television, radio, internet and telecoms habits, shows that the country has overtaken the town in having broadband access for the first time. This is notable because just four years ago, people who lived in urban areas were twice as likely to have a broadband connection as those who lived in the country.

Ed Richards, who is Ofcom’s chief executive, said that the findings signify a 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.” Ofcom's strategy and market developments partner, Peter Phillips, said that he was surprised by 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.”

As well as these surprising findings, the report also indicated that there were large differences in the take-up of modern communications in different areas of the UK. It showed that Sunderland was the most well connected city in the UK, boasting 66% of households with broadband and a huge 96% with digital television. At the other end of the scale, Glasgow had the lowest rate of broadband connections in the UK at just 32%.

Local government initiatives and poor weather is thought to be the cause of Sunderland’s high uptake of broadband and digital TV. Meanwhile Glasgow's poor rate of connectivity is blamed on the amount of households owning a PC, which is significantly lower than in other areas of the UK.

Despite Glasgow’s poor rate of connectivity, broadband was much more popular in other areas of Scotland, including Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee, which all boast broadband rates that are higher than the UK average. Even the remote Scottish Highlands and Islands have broadband in an impressive 62% of homes. The high rate of broadband access in these areas can be attributed to a major government drive to bring broadband to every corner of Scotland. This drive was necessary to sustain the economies of the isolated communities in these remote areas, as the internet allows many residents in these areas to work, shop and bank from the comfort of their own home. Internet access also allows residents in these areas watch films and television online, which is particularly important in the absence of other means of entertainment such as live music, theatre and cinema.
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