I first got involved in the Rural Broadband agenda through online discussions with key activists. Even though I live in a town, I was brought up in a village, I love the countryside and I don’t see why people in who live in rural areas shouldn’t benefit from the same aspects of the modern world that the rest of us take for granted.
My work on Rural Broadband was given a major stimulus by #twicket, when I organised the World’s First Live Broadcast of a Village Cricket match to raise the profile of the cause.
Since then I have worked on community and business engagement programmes for Rural Broadband initiatives in Lincolnshire (with CDI Alliance), County Durham, Tees Valley, Cheshire and Kirklees (with Grey Sky Consulting), and have given informal advice to a number of other rural broadband initiatives. I have also had an on-going relationship with B4RN, Britain’s biggest community-led rural Fibre to the Home initiative.
In 2011, I ran Can’t Get Online Week, a week long tour of Britain’s rural notspots. During the week, I:
- visited communities in Hampshire, Essex, Norfolk, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland, East Yorkshire, and North Yorkshire;
- appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme; BBC Radio 5 live; BBC Radio Norfolk, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Humberside, and BBC One TV’s Look North (see http://wp.me/ppLRZ-kB);
- Achieved numerous mentions in local Newspapers;
- Secured endorsement from Downton Abbey, Twenty Twelve and W1A star, Hugh Bonneville (see https://audioboo.fm/boos/496557-hugh-bonneville-hughbon-explains-why-he-supports-cantgetonline-week);
- Secured support via Twitter from Stephen Fry (see https://twitter.com/stephenfry/statuses/121549036514836480);
- recorded video interviews with more than 30 local residents;
- recorded a video interview with farming minister, Jim Paice;
- stimulated action towards securing better broadband by a number of local community groups
- secured sponsorship from:
- CLA (Country Land and Business Association)
- City Car Club
- Rural Broadband Ltd.
- County Broadband Ltd.
- Hughes Communications
- A number of individual donations
- drove 1343 miles.
I am seeking to repeat this in the Autumn of 2014.