Broadband supremo calls for grass-roots revolution

People who want high-speed Internet access but cannot get it may have to get their hands dirty - that at least is the advice from the Rural and Regional Broadband conference

The chairman of the Broadband Stakeholder Group has urged people who don't have access to affordable high-speed Internet access to take matters into their own hands.

Speaking at the Rural and Regional Broadband conference in London on Wednesday, Keith Todd warned that a pro-active approach was needed to close the broadband divide. "People must not just accept the status quo. Don't just complain and sit back; complain and take action," said Todd, who claimed he is playing the role of a revolutionary in senior circles.

"We need revolutionaries at the grass roots as well," Todd insisted, pointing out that a good first step would be to register one's interest in getting ADSL by using BT's broadband pre-registration scheme. Community wireless networking is a major focus of the Rural and Regional Broadband conference, which has been organised by the Access to Broadband Campaign. Many in the industry believe that technologies such as 802.11b will play a key role in the rollout of broadband to existing coverage black spots.

A significant number of wireless broadband networks are being rolled out in different parts of the UK, in areas as diverse as Cumbria, Northern Ireland, rural Devon and Anglesey. The Anglesey network has been created by Groupe Pathfinder. Mike Parker, chief technology officer for Groupe Pathfinder, backed up the view that individual consumers and businesses should take a "DIY" approach rather than simply waiting for a telco to eventually offer them a broadband service. "You've got to take the B&Q method and get out and do it yourself," Parker told the conference audience.

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