Latest research carried out by Ofcom indicates that the common belief that the digital divide is only prevalent between the urban and rural areas isn’t true and there are quite a few areas within the urban regions that do not have next-generation access (NGA) broadband coverage.
“While cities are generally well served by fixed and mobile broadband services, particularly when compared to rural areas, there were significant variations between the 11 cities we assessed in terms of the proportion of standard broadband connections that were not delivering a speed above 2Mbit/s and next-generation access (NGA) broadband coverage”, noted Ofcom in its report.
The cities that were part of the study included Bangor, Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Exeter, Glasgow, Inverness, London, Londonderry, and Manchester.
The research found that Londonderry was the only city with 99 percent availability of NGA services either from BT or Virgin Media at the end of 2013.
London on the other hand didn’t see any expansion in NGA services and it retained 88 percent availability for 2012 as well as 2013. Some of the other cities and their 2013 NGA availability numbers are Birmingham (91 percent), Manchester (86 percent), Cambridge (96 percent), Cardiff (92 percent). The lowest availability was in Inverness at just 2 percent.
Ofcom’s study also found a rather interesting correlation between availability of broadband within city areas with low-income group residents.
“We looked at 6 cities in more detail and found that in the majority of them, areas of greatest income deprivation also had a higher proportion of connections with speeds of less than 2Mbit/s than the rest of the city”, noted Ofcom.
Ofcom notes that areas most income deprived areas were also the ones that had the least availability of NGA broadband. So going by this, Manchester has an overall super-fast broadband availability of 86 percent, but only 80.6 percent low-income areas have that availability. Glasgow’s figures also reflect the same with 67 percent overall availability and just 57.8 percent low-income areas under NGA.