RS2: UK

How a British telecoms startup is bridging UK’s rural digital divide

Mark Scott wrote the article “How a British telecoms startup is bridging UK’s rural digital divide” for Politico magazine. He detailed how a startup, TrueSpeed, is bringing high speed internet to the small, rural town of Keynsham, England. Big technology corporations do not often invest in bringing high speed internet to rural areas, which relegates residents of these areas to poor connections for both broadband and mobile internet access (para 2). However, Scott describes an abnormality in this trend in a small village outside of Bristol, which now “has some of the fastest internet speeds on the planet” (para 3). TrueSpeed, led by Evan Wienburg, has brought high speed internet to an area Scott says seems unlikely for this kind of progress given that it is sparsely dotted with farms and country pubs (para 4). According to Scott, Wienburg wants to dispel the notion that “it’s not practical (or financially viable) to offer ultra-fast internet speeds” to people who live in rural areas (para 5). Scott discusses the value of this venture and others like it in rural Sweden and Greece, and how rural tech companies are succeeding where “national telecoms monopolies and billions of euros of government subsidies…failed” (para 9). Only 40 percent of people in rural areas have access to high speed internet, Scott explains, which can result in “isolation, economic sluggishness and even…populist politics” (para 10). Wienburg, who was in the Royal Air Force and stationed in Virginia, was frustrated by the lack of connection when he returned to the UK and resolved to fix it by starting TrueSpeed (para 13). According to Scott, TrueSpeed is providing rural homes with speeds of 200 megabits per second, with the ability to increase speeds to 1 gigabit per second, which is ten times faster than the UK’s national average and fast enough to make a “city dweller envious” (para 18 & 19). TrueSpeed hopes to connect 15,000 homes by the end of the year and lease out the network to other internet companies to provide more costumer options (para 22). Scott explains how TrueSpeed and companies in other European countries are filling “a much-needed gap in Europe’s efforts” to keep up with the US and China (para 24). Scott concludes by making the point that these efforts are conquering the digital divide in Europe by helping those who “would otherwise be left behind” (para 26).

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