UK government is condemned for failing to bridge the rural urban digital divide

A UK parliamentary committee released a report that underlined the persistent digital divide between urban and rural areas. Neil Parish, Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee that published the report said that: ‘despite improvements in coverage since our predecessor’s Report, our inquiry has shown that poor broadband and mobile data services continue to marginalise rural communities, particularly those living in hard to reach areas.’ Notwithstanding the endeavors made by the government in this regard, the committee doubts that the government fully understands some dimensions of the issue including the extent of the problem, the scale of the challenge, or the wider cost of poor connectivity for the rural economy. Rural business is still hampered by poor connectivity which also deprives people of getting access to online public services and hence put them at disadvantage compared to people in urban areas. The report further criticises the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) introduced by the government for its inadequate specifications, lack of ambition for rural areas, lack of universality, and obsolete minimum speed of 10Mbps. It further suggests a ‘rural roaming’ to tackle partial “not-spots” in mobile coverage in the absence of a forthcoming agreement between Government and Mobile Network Operators.