Blogging – a minority sport?

July 17, 2008

On a recent BBC television programme Holyrood Live, the chair of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission Blair Jenkins quoted figures they researched indicating the source of people’s news.

TV approx. 80 %
Newspapers approx 55 %
Radio approx 25 %
Internet approx 20 %

I would imagine these figures would be similar across the UK, with these provisios garned from Ofcom:-

Scotland has a 53 % takeup of broadband.
England has a 58 % takeup
Northern Ireland has a 52 % takeup
Wales has a 45 % takeup

The UK on average has a 57% takeup of broadband.

(Ofcom also breaks Scotland’s takeup down by region:-

Aberdeen 64%
Edinburgh, Highlands and Islands, Dundee 62%
Glasgow 32 % )

Glasgow’s figure is low because there is less takeup of PCs.

It is also clear that the figures in Glasgow, its largest city, are slowing down Scotland’s takeup figures as a whole! If Glasgow had a figure close to that of Edinburgh, Dundee or Aberdeen then Scotland would be higher than the UK average with a figure higher than 60 %.

Ofcom’s figures for the UK show are a slight improvement than the standard

So it would be fair to say that the figures for the internet news mentioned in the Scottish Broadcasting Commission would probably be slightly higher in England, probably around 22 % closing in on radio. If reflected on Northern Ireland and Wales the internet news figure would be slighly lower.

What does all this mean for Scottish bloggers?

Well it really means that percentage-wise our Scottish audience figures will be low. How many internet users could be swayed by news or political blogs online in Glasgow East, say?

Glasgow has a 32% take up of broadband. Its probably less in Glasgow East, but Ofcom’s figures don’t break down by constituency.

So if we take the Glasgow East constituency of say 60000 (compensating for the lower broadband take-up and making the arithmetic slightly easier); only 1/3 of people there will have broadband.

That’s 20 000.

Now only a fifth of those use the internet for news.

That’s 4 000.

That’s a maximum amount of Glasgow East people that political bloggers and online newspapers etc can reach.

But compare that figure to the Daily Record.

Average daily circulation figure in Scotland around 360 000.
Population of Scotland about 5 million people.

Thats 7.2% of the population.

7.2% of 60 000 (roughly the Glasgow East electorate) is 4320.

A remarkably close figure to the internet figure.

The difference is that the news hungry internet people have a world of choice to get their news, and those reading the Daily Record are stuck with the Record’s view on everything from politics to big brother and the Old Firm.

What better reason could there be for extending the broadband take-up in Scotland?

Scotland has 53% broadband take-up. South Korea has 93 % broadband take-up.

South Korea has legislation making new house-builders put broadband in place as standard. What’s more its usually better and faster (mainly fibre-optic technology) and cheaper than the standard in Scotland.

Something to think about for Scotland.


Scottish broadband take-up

June 15, 2008

Scottish broadband take-up is the second highest in the UK at 53 %, behind England at 58 %, marginally ahead of Northern Ireland (52%) and significantly higher than Wales (45%).

Although low by comparison to other countries, this figure accurately reflects Scotland’s low population density in many areas. This is in no small part due to the previous Scottish Executive’s decision to try and push Scotland’s rural broadband infrastructure across to the remote Highlands and islands – a move which would have not been economically viable if left to market forces. Without that Scotland would probably have a broadband take-up comparable to Wales.

Due to the rural broadband push, around two-thirds (67%) of Scotland is connected to an unbundled exchange. This compares with a figure of 84% in England.

Thus the SNP have argued for a final push for broadband connectivity for exchanges. They managed to secure a £3.4 million grant from the European Union to begin this task in April 2008.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes commented: “I am pleased to endorse public funding that will allow residential and business users in Scotland, who still do not have access to affordable broadband services, to reap the full benefits of the knowledge-based economy.”

Hopefully with this initiative, broadband will reach Scotland’s remotest communities.

The effort taken by the previous Executive and the new Scottish Government means that the Highlands and Island have a broadband take-up at 62%; higher than the average broadband takeup in England. In rural areas of Scotland overall, the figure (59%) was comparable to England’s average.

The main cities of Scotland:- Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow showed variation. Three: Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh had take-up rates of 62 – 64 %. Glasgow showed a take-up rate of only 32 % – that is a rate only slighly better than the Czech Republic (30 %) and other Eastern European countries in the recent ITIF report.

The Ofcom report explains the discrepancy by pointing out that only 44 % of Glasgow households own a laptop or PC, compared to a Scottish average of 64 %, and by low household incomes.

The Glasgow figure does not look like catching up with the rest of Scotland. Of those who do not have broadband in urban Scotland (48 % of the population) only 15 % said they were certain or fairly likely to get broadband in 2009. That would raise the Scottish urban take-up from 52 % in 2008 to 59 % in 2009.

If the same 15 % figure was applied to Glasgow its take-up would rise to 42 %, pretty much everyone who currently owns a PC in the city – so I’d suggest that the 15 % figure would be lower in Glasgow too. I don’t think we’ll see a glut of people in Glasgow buying PCs next year so that the 42 % will be reached.

We can see from this the low take-up rate in Glasgow is skewing Scotland’s broadband figures as a whole.

Take out the Glasgow figures and the Scottish broadband take-up rate would be about 62 %.

That is higher than anywhere else in the UK, and higher than Australia, and beginning to catch on Canada.

Its clear that Glasgow’s Eastern European-like broadband take-up rate is affecting our country.

Perhaps it’s not only the rural broadband push that we need to consider. Would the European Union give a grant for Glasgow?

That’s a sobering thought since Glasgow is hosting a major sporting event in 2014.

Lets look at the World leader in Broadband take-up, South Korea (93 %). Perhaps they can teach us lessons.

South Korea has put broadband in every residential and office block in the country. Large residential and office blocks have had fibre connections since 1997.

The speed of the broadband connections remain the fastest in the world. That has meant that the online gaming industry has exploded in growth in South Korea. Many gamers from around the world have settled in the country for that reason.

With this broadband backbone, South Korea is now the 13th richest country in the world by GDP. Its economy is the 4th largest in Asia.

At the start of the 21st century, the South Korean Government began a National IT project. It is now the world’s leading IT nation. It now has plans to become the world leader in robotics, and seeks to put a robot in every South Korean home by 2020.

By comparison Glasgow’s plans; putting wifi in Glasgow’s Underground trains and regular trains to Edinburgh – are just tinkering around the edges.

Until radical policies address the social problems of Glasgow, and housing is built with broadband as standard; Scotland will continue to lag on the IT superhighway hard shoulder.

The song was ‘Glasgow belongs to me.’ Without Broadband to open up the world’s possibilities that’s all a Glaswegian will get.

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Broadband take-up

June 14, 2008

These are the latest World Broadband ratings by ITIF:-

I’m going to concentrate this blog on the first column. That of broadband penetration; what percent of the countries population has access to broadband internet at home.

A recent Ofcom study found the UK’s figures slightly higher than ITIF, sitting at 57%. I hope this is indeed the case. I’ll use the Ofcom figures as accurate for the UK and the ITIF figures as accurate globally. Where the Ofcom figures match in the case of Belgium and the US, I’ll put the UK behind both countries as a low ranking 57%.

Sorting the ITIF list purely on Broadband takeup we get:-

1. South Korea 93
2. Iceland 83
3. Netherlands 77
4. Denmark 76
5. Switzerland 74
6. Norway 68
7. Canada 65
8. Finland 61
9. Australia 59
10. Belgium 57
11. United States 57
12. United Kingdom 57
13. Luxembourg 56
14. Japan 55
15. Sweden 54
16. France 54
17. Spain 49
18. Germany 47
19. Republic of Ireland 46
20. Austria 45
21. Portugal 44
22. New Zealand 42
23. Italy 41
24. Czech Republic 30
25. Hungary 29
26. Poland 23
27. Turkey 23
28. Slovakia 22
29. Mexico 20
30. Greece 18

I think that broadband takeup is the more relevant figure posted by ITIF. Speed and price are market factors, but the takeup figure roughly shows the percentage of people that use the internet and roughly shows your market audience. (Obviously countries with extremely large populations with lower takeup are not on the list e.g. China, India, Russia.)

Now regular readers might suspect that I’ll be analysing the UK figures in detail, and breaking them down to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They would be right!

As this blog already is on the long side though, I’ll refrain from the compare and contrast – till later.

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