• The digital divide: Patterns, policy and scenarios for connecting the ‘final few’ in rural communities across Great Britain

      Philip, Lorna; Cottrill, Caitlin; Farrington, John; Williams, Fiona; Ashmore, Fiona; University of Aberdeen; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2017-01-17)
      The Internet can bestow significant benefits upon those who use it. The prima facie case for an urban-rural digital divide is widely acknowledged, but detailed accounts of the spatial patterns of digital communications infrastructure are rarely reported. In this paper we present original analysis of data published by the UK telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, and identify and reflect on the entrenched nature of the urban-rural digital divide in Great Britain. Drawing upon illustrative case vignettes we demonstrate the implications of digital exclusion for personal and business lives in rural, and in particular remote rural, areas. The ability of the current UK policy context to effectively address the urban-rural digital divide is reviewed and scenarios for improving digital connectivity amongst the ‘final few’, including community-led broadband, satellite broadband and mobile broadband, are considered. A call is made for digital future proofing in telecommunications policy, without which the already faster urban areas will get ‘faster, fastest’ leaving rural areas behind and an increasingly entrenched urban-rural divide.
    • ‘It’s revolutionised how we do things’: then and now - a case study of Internet behaviours in a remote rural community

      Williams, Fiona; Farrington, John; Philip, Lorna; University of Aberdeen (James Hutton Institute, 2015-08-31)
      The Digital Economy has opened up new opportunities for societal wellbeing across many domains of life. However, the market dependency of the landscape of connection has resulted in communities which have inadequate broadband infrastructure and are off the digital map. This form of digital exclusion is most notable in remote, rural areas. In this paper we draw upon the Rural Public Access WiFi Service research study that is focused upon enabling Internet connectivity for commercially ‘hard to reach’ rural areas in the UK. Enabling broadband connectivity to those who were previously unable to access the Internet demonstrates benefits, which translate into the positive role that improved digital connectivity can have on the wellbeing of individuals and remote rural communities at large.