Reaching the hard to reach? The 'rural public access WiFi service' delivery model – role, potential and pitfalls

Hassan Hamdoun, Fiona Williams, Althaff Mohideen, Lorna Philip, Gorry Fairhurst, John Farrington

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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The Digital Economy (DE) has opened up new opportunities for societal wellbeing across many domains of life. Businesses and government in the UK and elsewhere are seeking to capitalize upon these opportunities in terms of reduced operational costs and improved services. However, a sizeable minority of the UK population lack access to basic DE enabled services and therefore do not yet participate in this Digital Economy. There is a growing social and economic gap between those who are connected and those who are not, the ‘digitally excluded’. This paper outlines the Rural Public Access WiFi Service (PAWS) delivery model that is designed to promote connectivity amongst ‘hard to reach’ households in a remote rural area. It describes the deployment methods and technology enablers surrounding a pilot using satellite broadband connectivity for a case study in remote and rural south Shropshire on the English/Welsh border. This includes analysis of social and technological data to give insights into the reasons behind rural digital exclusion and the online behaviour and experiences of households now receiving Internet access via the PAWS technology. The paper concludes with some reflections on the potential and the pitfalls of the model adopted in Rural PAWS to provide connectivity to a ‘hard to reach’ population.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventDigital Economy All Hands Conference 2014 - Royal Geographic Society and Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Dec 20145 Dec 2014


ConferenceDigital Economy All Hands Conference 2014
Abbreviated titleDE2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • digital exclusion
  • digital by default
  • rural broadband
  • infrastructure barriers
  • technology innovation
  • IT as a utility


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