Sunday, 26 February 2012

Getting Connected - Rural Areas Are Still Losing Out

The boundaries between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred. The growth of home working has been one of the most marked features of workforce change in recent years, and with more people wanting to be contactable 24 hours a day it is essential that a home has the best communication technology possible.

David Hill of the Savills Country House Consultancy department, who advises on the owning and running of country houses and estates explains the options available: "A basic internet connection runs through a telephone line and connection speeds can vary from below 1 Megabit per second (Mbps) to 6Mbps. Satellite and mobile phone connections are available but limited to approximately 2Mbps. Cable can provide broadband speeds up to 25Mbps but a fibre-optic broadband connection supplies up to 150Mbps."

"The EU has set up a fund to get broadband to rural areas where the market is failing. The Government has launched a Broadband Strategy with £530 million fund in the UK. It has some punchy targets which include delivering Superfast broadband to 90% of the population and minimum of 2Mbps connection to the remainder by 2015. "Superfast" is broadband with speeds exceeding 24mbps."

"Many rural areas are still struggling with connections as low as 0.2Mbps, they are losing out on efficient internet connections; cable is expensive to install especially where there is some distance to the nearest exchange and urban areas are still taking priority due to the volume of users in a close proximity."

"As part of the Government Broadband Strategy Fund there is a £20 million Rural Community Broadband Fund available through DEFRA to enable communities to get together and bring in superfast broadband. This is a competitive fund and the setup is extremely complex, involving a great deal of time and financial commitment from the whole community"

It is worth reviewing the location of the closest superfast broadband exchange and investigating how this can be linked in to. Satellite and other wireless technologies mean that it is not necessary to dig cables to the front door but some are not so reliable."

David adds: "The CLA has called on the Government to ensure that every rural business and household can have access to a broadband connection of at least five Mbps, bringing rural areas with inadequate broadband up to speed and therefore enabling more people to successfully work from home and operate in rural businesses."

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