Community broadband – for the solitary freelancer

While a selection of underground stations in London have begun offering a free Wifi service to tube travellers, much of the rest of the nation is only just getting up to speed above ground. It might be expected that Britain’s capital, soon to be host to the Olympic games, would offer the best in internet speed but it would be totally unjust if rural Britain were left lagging behind in future. Indeed, though we are suffering the consequences of an economic programme of austerity it is important that money is not withdrawn from projects designed to improve next generation access and community broadband. Because, as people face joblessness, pay cuts, and ‘streamlined’ conditions of employment, many of the most enterprising will take it upon themselves to set up mini businesses, sell unwanted or handmade goods, and even try going it alone in the freelance world. All of the above are good survival strategies when the state fails to provide us with support. But many of these strategies rely on strong ICT infrastructure.

So it transpires that excellent connectivity would boost the whole of Britain and not just those living in London and within commuting distance. Beyond the opportunity to be more business-minded, better access to the internet also helps build a more cohesive society. Web forums full of consolation and counsel have helped many a person get through a whole range of difficulties from hands-on DIY technical hitches to emotional break-ups and stressful exam times. In fact, access to the internet is of increasing importance to young and old single people who are so busy in their professional lives and so set in their social habits that they find online dating the most effective and fun way to find a lover or friend.

And we hardly want to deny exciting romantic adventures and friends to people on the sole basis of them having poor internet service. Next generation access should definitely be evenly distributed and soon will be thanks to progressive improvements in the UK’s investment in ICT infrastructure. Of course, community broadband projects will not only help solve the local issues described above. They will also encourage British citizens to stay abreast of international goings-on and current affairs, stay in touch with friends, family and business partners abroad, and, crucially, get access to information, educational resources, entertainment and work.

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