Book Chapter Details
Mandatory Fields
Wayne Kelly and Michael Hynes
2018 November
Service Provision and Rural Sustainability: Infrasture and Innovation
Remotely connected? A comparative analysis of the development of rural broadband infrastructure and initiatives
London and New York
Optional Fields
Broadband; Sustainability; Rural Development; Ireland; Canada;
The popular and commercial development of the internet over the recent past has been astonishing and has initiated and enabled comprehensive changes in virtually every facet of human activity, leading to the creation of a ‘network society’ (Castells, 2002). It has enabled new forms and systems of communication; supported new sources and stores of information; facilitated the development of new businesses and new kinds of media; and allowed new forms of political, social, and cultural expression to emerge. New information and communication technologies (ICTs), improved connectivity, and sustainable infrastructure can be used to help make rural and remote communities more resilient to future challenges and shocks, and generate more equity between rural and urban populations. However, realizing new technology’s universal utility will require investment that increases access to ICTs in remote, often low-productivity, areas, and the development of innovative services and applications that cater to the particular needs of rural and isolated communities. Research has found that internet connectivity benefits these areas by helping to overcome geographical isolation; promote access to resources, services, and opportunities; and encourage better social interactions and community attachment, which lowers the possibilities of outward-migration and stimulates economic development (Whitacre et al., 2014a). The growth and prevalence of high-speed broadband allows greater flexibility in working hours and location, for instance, and the low cost and instantaneous sharing of ideas, knowledge, and skills have made collaborative work easier (Stone et al., 2017). It allows workers to remotely access other computers and information stores easily from any access point on the network. In addition, many people now use the Web to access news, weather, and sports; to plan and book holidays; and to pursue their own personal interests. The importance of an ‘information society’ for maintaining and strengthening human rights has been argued (Klang and Murray, 2005; WSIS, 2003, United Nations, 2016), and although this position has been challenged (Cerf, 2012; Skepys, 2012), the internet can play a crucial role in promoting civil and political engagement (Feezell et al., 2016; Kent and Zeitner, 2003; Smith et al., 2009). The digital economy is defined as the new economic paradigm, which is marked by an increasing reliance on ICTs and digital 143technologies (Hadziristic, 2017), providing a wide range of economic and social opportunities and benefits. For communities and businesses, regardless of location, this means that they need to adopt digital technologies in order to successfully participate in that economy (Whitacre et al., 2014b) as, for instance, the ability to complete transactions online is now an essential part of running a successful business in the 21st century (Kuttner, 2016).
Grant Details
Publication Themes
Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy