Rural Internet

The Oxford Internet Institute of the University of Oxford has teamed up with dot.rural, the RCUK’s Digital Economy Hub, at the University of Aberdeen, to conduct focused research on the rural digital economy. Together we designed the 2013 Oxford Internet Survey, with an expanded rural sample, to take our first close examination of access to the Internet in rural areas, and how this might shape social and economic development. Our study is enriched by a complementary Ofcom report on the geography of access to communication services in the UK.

The OxIS 2013 survey incorporated an expanded stratified sample of rural residents, resulting in a total sample size of over 2,600 face-to-face interviews conducted across Britain. We asked individuals aged 14 and older about their Internet access, online activities and behaviour, as well as attitudes towards issues such as privacy and trust. This sample included over 800 rural residents, enabling us to develop an analysis of urban-rural and within rural differences that we have been impossible in previous surveys. Likewise, Ofcom’s report is the result of a pioneering effort to pull together data from multiple sources in order to examine the availability of seven different communication services across the UK. The report describes the variability in access to services between urban and rural areas, and also between the different nations and regions of the UK.

Workshop on the Rural Internet

Initial results were discussed at an academic policy-oriented workshop on 1 October 2013 to discuss the OxIS results on urban-rural access to the Internet placed in the context of Ofcom’s Report on ‘The Availability of Communications Services in the UK’. The workshop began with a presentation of results from the 2013 survey that address urban-rural and within rural variations in access to the Internet, also examining the implications of these patterns for rural users. Discussion focused on critically examining the validity of the data and analyses that stand behind our conclusions. In the afternoon there was a presentation on the Ofcom report, with discussion on the conclusions of the report, links with the survey findings, and the implications of these patterns of access for initiatives that are underway or proposed to improve the availability of Internet and related communication infrastructures in the UK and other nations. The workshop was followed by the public launch of the 2013 OxIS Report.

Abstract: To be supplied.

Andrew Gillespie, University of Newcastle
James Thickett, Ofcom
Colin Cook, Scottish Government
John Farrington, dot.rural Digital Economy Hub / University of Aberdeen
Grant Blank, Oxford Internet Institute
William Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute