'Two-speed' Scotland: patterns and implications of the digital divide in contemporary Scotland

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Abstract

Digital communication is a routine element of everyday life. Well established communications technologies such as telephones and televisions have been joined, more recently, by widespread use of mobile telecommunications and by digital connectivity associated with the Internet. The use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) relies upon a digital infrastructure comprising telecommunications masts, cables, exchanges and satellites. ICT infrastructure provision is uneven across the UK, resulting in an urban-rural digital divide. In this paper we present an analysis of the most recent mobile telecommunications and broadband infrastructure data published by Ofcom, the UK telecommunications regulator. Similarities and stark differences between urban, accessible rural and remote rural areas of Scotland are identified. Our analysis demonstrates that there is, in digital communications terms, a ‘two-speed’ Scotland where (most) urban areas are in the digital fast lane and (most) rural areas are in the digital slow lane. Implications of this geographical digital divide for individuals who live in, and business that operate within, rural areas are considered. The findings, though based on an analysis of Scottish data, have relevance in a broader UK context and in Europe, North America and Australasia where an urban-rural digital divide also exists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-170
Number of pages23
JournalScottish Geographical Journal
Volume131
Issue number3-4
Early online date16 Oct 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • digital divide
  • broadband
  • internet
  • mobile connectivity
  • Scotland
  • urban-rural divide

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