Almost two thirds of UK businesses have reported that their broadband is unsatisfactorily slow. The rarity of adequate broadband speeds affects rural businesses the most. This can be contrasted with the nearly half of businesses in metropolitan areas that are unhappy with UK broadband. The dire situation of broadband in the UK is all the more bizarre considering that the UK has the largest e-commerce economy in the developed world.
The UK’s copper wire infrastructure is incredibly costly to uproot and replace with fibre optic cables, and this is cited as the main reason that the UK continues to have appalling broadband standards, according to reports on internet providers. The difference between the urbanised and rural sections of a relatively small country are being referred to as the ‘digital divide’.
Self-employment and small home-run business are also present to a greater degree in rural areas. These businesses are usually located a long way away from their clients and exist to provide niche products that the larger urban areas can’t provide or manufacture, or even products and services explicitly related to rural living or produce.
Meanwhile the UK government is trying to instill confidence in the public by claiming that it plans to create fifteen ‘super broadband’ cities by 2015. This serves only to anger those in the countryside who feel neglected by broadband upgrades past, present and future. They argue that small countryside-based businesses should be helped to expand during this recession and perhaps provide employment for those that are congregating around areas of high urban unemployment.
The UK has a while to go before it catches up rural areas to urban areas, nevermind catching up with the rest of the world. The sooner the upcoming 4G broadband auction can go ahead, the more quickly the UK will be on track to securing its dominance in the e-commerce markets.