FSB warns against broadband digital divide

Monday, November 28th 2011
Rural firms need guaranteed broadband service levels, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.
FSB warns against broadband digital divide
The government must ensure its rollout of super-fast broadband services across the UK does not result in a digital divide developing between urban and rural areas, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said.

Many smaller firms responding to the latest CMA Internet Opportunity Survey, backed by the FSB, said they currently have issues with broadband connectivity, potentially affecting their productivity and chances of expanding.

Nine per cent are completely unable to access broadband, while 22 per cent have at least one site that is not served by current-generation broadband.

A "marked difference" in performance was noted among the 84 per cent of small businesses that can currently take advantage of up-to-date internet connectivity, with more than one in four only able to access the government's minimum service level of 2Mbps.

Under the government's plans for the technology, 90 per cent of properties in the UK will be hooked up to super-fast broadband by 2015, with the remainder able to receive 2Mbps speeds.

Businesses that do not have the ability to access broadband will be at a significant disadvantage, the FSB stated, as it will prevent them from reaching new markets and allowing staff to work flexibly.

Consequently, the organisation has urged the government to outline where there will be gaps in coverage by 2015 and set out a commitment beyond that year.

John Walker, national chairman of the FSB, said: "With the growth of the internet, small businesses have been able to break down some of the barriers to markets, become more efficient as well as innovate and grow.

"However, we are concerned that the divide that currently splits urban and rural areas in terms of their broadband access will not be resolved by the government's existing commitments."

The Country Land and Business Association has also expressed concerns about the issue and argued all rural properties should be able to access speeds of at least 5Mbps.

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Comments (1)

29th November 2011
The answer for rural broadband is TV white space technology, a new wireless technology that uses vacant TV channels (UHF spectrum) to carry a broadband signal. These signals, which are uninterrupted by trees and rugged terrain, are great in rural areas. There are more vacant TV channels in rural areas too. Wireless Internet service providers all over the US and UK are getting ready to deploy this technology to solve rural broadband access problems once and for all. Trial projects in the US are working well under FCC-granted experimental license.
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