Two weeks ago we were contacted by the BBC who wanted to run a story on UK Broadband. This followed on from a meeting we’d previously had with them where we’d discussed the lack of information around ‘Not-spots’, what they are, where they are and what they mean, etc…
Fortunately we’d just completed a project with our friends at The Community Broadband Network to explore the same problem, focussing on England, on behalf of the Commission for Rural Communities. Even before this though, we’d been trying to fill a real gap in our knowledge about what it would feel like to live in an area of slow/no Broadband. Because we use the SamKnows Availability checker whilst deciding where to live (sad but true!), it’s been a while since any of us have anything but good Broadband Availability, apart from Adelaide! Or so she keeps telling us, (sigh). This puts us into a category that includes the majority of the UK, thanks to a well developed Broadband network and a high population density. However, thanks to campaigners like the tireless Lindsey Annison we’ve been ‘brought up to speed’ (poor choice of words) and now understand that living in a slow/no Broadband area means not being able to do basic things, that we take for granted, like shop online, send/receive email, watch iPlayer or use ‘cool’ sites like Facebook, Twitter and of course SamKnows.com.
Once we understood the implication of slow/no Broadband the next step was to map the extent of the problem. It’s worth noting that our project to ‘map’ England for the CBN/CRC took 4 months, but we had only a few days. What we decided to do was map a geographic sample of postcodes that we know (from information about their Telephone Exchanges) would have slower Broadband speeds. Simply put, this shows us, that slow/no Broadband is not limited to a single area, but is instead spread across the entire UK, please see map at http://www.broadbandperformance.co.uk/
. Even with this superficial research we can see the complexity of the problem that faces the Government and why in the Digital Britain report they suggested that a combination of technologies would be used: Fixed line, Cable, Mobile Broadband and potentially Satellite.
Whilst this initial BBC project serves only as an indication of the geographic spread of slow/no Broadband. We’re even more intrigued (can anyone be even more intrigued?), by this problem and intend to spend the coming weeks, aside from our project with Ofcom to benchmark the performance of the UK’s ISPs, to produce a much more accurate and comprehensive map.