Sunday, 19 August 2012 09:46

Revealed: Top 10 digital trailblazers

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Revealed: Top 10 digital trailblazers

A Top Ten list pinpoints the rural areas where online entrepreneurs are boosting the local economy.

The Rural Digital Trailblazers league table was devised by internet giant Google, which teamed up with the Countryside Alliance.

The project aims to highlight that entrepreneurs needn't be based in an industrial centre or a traditional urban hub to start or grow a business.

It is being promote to support rural businesses and help more entrepreneurs to get online.

MPs from each of the trailblazing areas were invited to a parliamentary reception, which was held last month in London.

Town % Growth
1  Braunton 43.5
2  Corsham 39.4
3  Hockley 37
4=  Bourne 34.6
4=  Newhaven 34.6
6  Mold 33.3
7  Henley on Thames 31.4
8  Great Dunmow 30.8
9  Ulveston 30.4
10  Bewdley 28
source: Countryside Alliance

Alliance board member Simon Hart joined Google UK managing director Dan Cobley at the event to voice support for rural business.

The importance of online business in rural areas was impressed upon MPs.

The list was compiled by shortlisting rural towns and villages with the highest online economic activity.

Towns were then ranked in terms of the percentage increase in local enterprises using Google AdWords over the last year.

The village of Braunton in Devon topped the list.

Braunton had the highest growth out of all the villages in the UK, indicating that its online entrepreneurs are boosting growth across the area.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, companies with an online presence grow from four to eight times faster than those companies without.

Entrepreneurs in the top five towns were invited to a series of Google Juice Bar events to learn how they can continuing harnessing the internet to their advantage.

The final Juice Bar event is due to take place at Bourne, Lincolnshire, on 7 September.

The news comes as new figures show UK consumers are achieving average residential broadband speeds of 9.0Mbit/s.

Ofcom's research shows that the average actual UK speed in May 2012 was 9.0Mbit/s - 2½ times faster than the average speed of 3.6Mbit/s recorded in November 2008.

The continuing trend of increasing speeds recorded in the research confirms that consumer migration to faster services is gathering momentum.

But many rural consumers continue to be left behind by faster broadband speeds in larger towns and cities.

The proportion of 'superfast' broadband connections which are superfast has increased in recent months with the launch of new superfast packages.

By May 2012, 8% of residential broadband connections were superfast, compared with 5% six months previously and 2% in May 2011.

Cable broadband connections typically found in urban areas generated the greatest increases in average speed in the six months to May 2012 – up by 3.6Mbit/s (26%) to 17.9Mbit/s.

But average speeds delivered by ADSL broadband – a technology that delivers broadband over copper wires in many rural areas – increased by only 10%, from 5.3Mbit/s to 5.9Mbit/s.

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