RS 2: Keynsham, England

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

In the small rural town of Keynsham, England, you wouldn’t expect to find internet speeds faster than in most cities. Internet providers often leave these types of communities on their own due to the low profitability of sparsely populated areas. However, a local telecommunications company is proving that bringing high speed internet to these areas is entirely feasible. Mark Scott’s article “How A British telecoms startup is bridging UK’s rural digital divide” (Politico, 2018) takes a look at how TrueSpeed’s chief executive Evan Wienburg plans to bring fast internet to England’s countryside. Wienburg’s company is still relatively small. However, it’s quickly growing, and has already “secured £75 million last summer… to roll out his network to roughly 75,000 mostly rural households” (7). Their success can be easily explained by the fact that TrueSpeed is the only company utilizing fiber optic cables to deliver blistering speeds to the area at affordable rates. Scott goes on to illustrate how welcome of a change this is. In rural areas of the EU, “[o]nly 40 percent of people… have access to high-speed broadband” (6). Without access to high speed internet, rural areas are forced to face isolation and slow economies. Wienburg recounts finding the inspiration to solve this problem; compared to his experiences in the U.S., internet connectivity was a major issue. Determined to fix this, Wienburg sought the help of investors and began running the fiber optic cables along existing electricity poles. In the company’s first city, the TrueSpeed’s efforts have already made a significant difference, with “coverage now reach[ing] almost 70 percent of households” (17). The network is already significantly faster than the average internet speed in London and can be sped up to five times its current rate. As word continues to spread about TrueSpeed’s endeavors, the company will be able to expand and help close the gap in internet connectivity. TrueSpeed isn’t the only small company to bring internet to the EU’s rural areas. While large internet providers are planning to eventually provide speeds comparable to those of TrueSpeed to their customers, these small companies play an important role in connecting Europe’s countryside to the world.

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