Although some regions of the country have an excellent ICT infrastructure, in others the technology is years behind – which might as well be decades in such an important and fast-moving area. next generation access might be an aspiration for the government, but it is far from the reality across Britain. Some rural areas have little or no broadband access, or rely on antiquated copper cables capable of carrying only a fraction of the information demanded for the high-bandwidth use of a modern business, for example. Community broadband is one way that groups of people have been able to address this reality, sometimes referred to as the ‘digital divide’.
The regions where the ICT infrastructure is patchy are often called ‘notspots’ – the opposite of the ‘hotspots’ that are home to a concentration of wifi networks or broadband coverage. If you live in one of these then you are likely to struggle to get online. Although there are some solutions, these can be expensive. Plus, some notspots are uncovered areas for mobile networks as well as broadband. This means that connecting via a smartphone is a non-starter, too.
That can be a real difficulty. Whereas some fifteen years ago internet access was considered unusual, or at least a luxury, now most people could not do without it – not without major changes to their lifestyles and company practices. We rely on email for quick, easy communication. We access information about goods and services on the web. Work often heavily depends on it. Businesses trade online, orders are placed and bills paid. Broadband access is a utility, like electricity or water. Not having it is a major disadvantage and represents a form of inequality.
Community broadband involves getting together with a group of other people in the same situation as you and procuring the next generation access that much of the rest of the country uses without thinking about it. The group may be a collection of local residents, who require better internet access. Or it could be a cluster of businesses on the same site, who know that their operations would receive a real boost from a 21st century ICT infrastructure. There are companies who can take account of these needs and address them by installing the architecture needed to bring you up to speed. These initiatives may be subsidised or organised by the government, who recognise the importance of UK-wide coverage.
Please visit http://www.broadbandvantage.co.uk/ for further information about this topic.