One of the things I noticed as we were touring Scotland last week is how cut off so many people outside big towns are in terms of internet and mobile connection.
We were ok as we like to be offline for our holidays, but as so much has to be done online now, I wondered how people cope.
The Digital Britain plan was for 100 per cent broadband coverage across the UK by 2012 and we’re a long way behind that.
In Galgate, where I live and run my business, I knew that while I was away our broadband speed was being improved, but when I tested it we had just six mega-bites per second – 11 mbs below the average national speed and no sign of anything improving any time soon.
I remind myself that not that long ago I didn’t even have a computer, but actually good broadband is essential for running a business now, I hear of people having to work on their website in the middle of the night to get a half decent connection.
Then I had the enormous pleasure of talking to Chris Doyle of Broadband For Rural North – B4RN.org – a wonderful organisation that takes broadband to our villages because no one else will.
She explained that many of our rural villages are still on expensive dial up.
As we chatted, the village of Aughton was connected and a young man there tested his lap top and got 700mbs.
The rest of us can only dream of that connection speed.
What is truly amazing about B4RN is that they don’t get a penny of the multi-millions of public money that’s been put into bringing faster broadband to Lancashire, so all their work is community led.
The 20 houses in Aughton had been connected because 69 volunteers gave their time to dig trenches, lay the fibre and connect each property.
As a result of B4RN, 15 year old Tom from Quernmore is now the Uk’s youngest qualified Fusion Splicer and soon they will be able to create jobs for local people.
Working this way they‘ve already connected 549 properties and Halton is next.
But they’re not only getting rural communities connected they’re future proofing them as the speed the rest of us will get, around 25mbs if we’re lucky, will very soon be just too slow again.