Two-Speed Britain: Rural Internet Use
60 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2015 Last revised: 5 Dec 2015
Date Written: August 17, 2015
By using detailed data on Internet access and use in rural and urban areas of Britain, we show the effect of low-speed broadband connection on people’s use of the Internet and the services it provides. We use a three-fold definition of deep rural, shallow rural, and urban areas to explore the nature of the digital divides between these areas, and the consequences for people’s relation with the Internet. We find that while overall access to the Internet varies little geographically, though with very different connection speeds, there are consistent differences in urban versus deep rural Internet use that provide evidence not only of an urban-rural digital divide, but also ways in which this divide is manifested. In particular, through this analysis, we have discovered that the ‘urban-rural divide’ is generally manifested between ‘deep rural’ Internet use on the one hand and ‘shallow rural and urban’ Internet use on the other hand. The existence of this divide - a two-speed Britain - means that over 1 million people in Britain are potentially excluded from, or at best find it challenging to participate in, what is generally regarded as ‘normal’ online social, commercial, creative and civic life, because they live in deep rural areas of the Britain.
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