Regional Britain warns of digital divide

The UK’s regional areas could face the emergence of a digital divide unless change s are made to the government’s mandate for a universal broadband service in the UK of 2Mbps+ .

According to a new report by the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), individuals and businesses residing outside of  the major towns and cities will be left out of the high speed loop. The report, from the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), makes a series of recommendations to ensure that rural homes can keep pace with urban areas.

The report calls for greater assistance to community-based broadband schemes and the exploration of alternative investment models for rural areas. The CRC report, ‘Mind the Gap - Digital England, a rural perspective’ suggests that the government should encourage and perhaps subsidise working from home as one third of people working from home live in rural areas.

The Digital Britain report , released earlier this month proposed to provide a minimum speed of 2Mbps  to all UK homes by 2012, but the CRC contends that legacy network equipment and outdated infrastructure will relegate 42 % of the rural population to a fate of internet speeds of less than 2Mbps.

UK Minister of Communications Stephen Carter, responded to the report’s claims stating, "the CRC's report rightly highlights the need to ensure rural communities aren't left behind as the rest of the UK enjoys the benefits of digital technologies, both social and economic." He however stood by the Digital Britain plans for a broadband tax and 2Mbps commitment as adequate measures to address regional telecommunications needs.