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Surrey Hills Society on superfast broadband for rural communities

PUBLISHED: 14:18 16 October 2013 | UPDATED: 14:18 16 October 2013

Surrey Hills Society

Surrey Hills Society

Archant

Chairman of the Surrey Hills Society, Chris Howard, reveals how Surrey County Council's new superfast broadband programme could revolutionise life in 
our rural communities

Surrey is often perceived as extremely wealthy – full of footballers, pop stars, and bankers. Yet, over a quarter of the county is extremely rural and many people would be shocked to discover the level of disadvantage in some pockets of our community.

Limited public transport and a lack of access to services particularly disadvantages children born into low income families in these rural locations – which means that for them the internet is an even more vital line of communication than elsewhere.

To many of us, fast reliable broadband is standard. However, small rural hamlets are not economically viable for the telecoms companies to invest in the infrastructure needed to deliver the service to them without assistance from government. Holmwood Common and Pixham, near Dorking, have already received fibre broadband through Surrey County Council’s partnership with BT, and many more Surrey villages will be receiving it soon.

Now you may be wondering what being able to stream movies via the internet has to do with being disadvantaged but schools now deliver a lot of information via the internet including homework assignments. Children without internet at home or old-fashioned dial-up speeds will take longer to complete their work. Alternatively, they go to the library and then find there is no bus to get them home.

The elderly too can be disadvantaged. More and more medical care is being given via the internet. I have seen video links of patients speaking to doctors via a web link on a PC that even takes their blood pressure and other vital readings. It allows doctors to see many more patients and can allow the elderly to remain in their homes rather than have to resort to nursing homes or, worse, the over-stretched hospitals.

The Internet Age is here and no one will be able to function effectively without it. For this reason, I applaud Surrey County Council for their ambition to deliver fast reliable broadband to everyone.

Visit superfastsurrey.org.uk to find out when superfast broadband is coming to you and how to order the service.

If you would like to join the Surrey Hills Society, visit surreyhillssociety.org

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