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The Digital Divide in just 45miles..

A key understanding of how vast the digital divide has been published this week called "Levelling-Up Digital Connectivity in Counties" by The County All Party Parliamentary Group and County Councils Network. The report, based on data from Ofcom, found that around 15% of premises in Surrey and 16.8% in Hampshire have access to Gigabit broadband, yet in London around 77% of all business/residential premises have gigabit broadband access. As many will have noticed by leaflets through their posts, there is a real drive to increase Gigabit Britain, and the local councils, as well as Department for Media, Culture & Sport, as well as private companies such as Grayshott Gigabit are keen to drive the change to meet this digital challenge. We're all working on the common goal to get our rural areas connected as fast as possible to level up the digital society, to create online opportunities, which as the pandemic has shown means we can work from anywhere, and therefore improve local economies.

However, sometimes we do get comments where people feel that gigabit broadband is not needed, and perhaps they are satisfied with their current speeds of up to 80Mbps. It is true that speeds up to 80mbps were satisfactory, perhaps in the pre-pandemic society, especially those that were able to access the speeds since they live 50 metres from the superfast cabinet. But for the majority that speed is a distant reality, and a lot of people registering with us are fed up of their poor internet with just 10-20Mbps. It's also worth pointing out that superfast broadband will not remain, all will be changed as Openreach have committed to migrate everyone from copper PSTN lines to all IP-Fibre over the course of the next few years until 2026. Those rural areas that are not part of plans from a new full fibre or Gigabit company like ourselves will have to wait until that time, to get better speeds, unfortunately.

One of the challenges that many operators face is to convince people to move to fibre as providers to date have misled consumers with the perception that they already have fibre to their premises in our rural areas. If the maximum speed your provider can provide is up to 80Mbps, then you do not have fibre to your premise - instead you have a last mile copper connection from your premise to the cabinet. Some service providers on the Openreach network continue to advertise the service as "fibre", this is why sometimes there is apathy to change to real full fibre, and people are confused as why they need Gigabit in the first place. Those that think that their speeds are sufficient, have only just to see the current technology that is advancing the need for Gigabit speeds. For example Sky just launched their Sky Glass TV service, which means the end is nigh for satellite based TV content, instead moving over internet to a TV screen just like how Netflix, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer is streamed over broadband & Wi-Fi to devices today. Its interesting to see that Sky advertise that for UHD/4K streaming of their Sky Glass TV, a minimum of 25Mpbs broadband speeds is needed for each TV. If you have 2-3 TV's, which many people have, you will need 75Mbps just to watch the Sky content in UHD...unless you want to watch it in Standard Definition, try getting kids to watch in SD, and it will be like an episode from Life on Mars. We refer you to a great ad made by Google, that really shows on what we used to be happy with from 56kbps to 2Mbps, and to the current speed currently.

The ad above is just under 10 years old, so although Gigabit is now universal, the council report cited above highlights the digital divide. Grayshott Gigabit aims to help reduce that divide in the areas we are building. We understand that we might not get there fast enough for some, but we aim to start connecting as many properties as fast as possible, with all the challenges that rural areas bring versus urban areas. So the norm in the immediate need will be to have much faster broadband speeds, hence our minimum aims to be at 100Mbps, rising to 1.5Gbps for home users.

One key differentiator we would also highlight is the need for symmetric speeds, which means the same upload as download. If anyone has worked from home with poor broadband, everyone knows that you need to turn off your video if you are on Skype/Teams/Zoom or any other video conferencing application to try and maintain at least the voice connection. The reason is that video conferencing/file uploads requires higher upload speeds, and most providers today just focus on the download and woo their customers by offering faster downloads than uploads. When people ask about our pricing, they tend not to realise that our speeds are symmetrical, ie, we give the same upload as download, again a key feature on fibre, but moreso with the technology we are deploying that allows symmetric speeds. Even other providers who claim to offer gigabit, may not have the ability to offer symmetric speeds due to older technology being implemented.

We will be hosting Open Evenings at our Offices; 1 London Road, Hindhead, in the next few weeks. Please feel free to join us at one of our events, to see when we are connecting your areas, to hear about our build plans, and what services we aim to offer.


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