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Broadband Notspot: Stuck with dial-up? Someone cares

If you're living in the Internet Dark Ages, a new Web site has been set up to map your horror stories, and hopefully use them to improve the UK broadband situation

It's crucial in this day and age that everyone has access to the Internet. Children need it to help with their schoolwork and to get used to communicating with people from around the world. Adults require it to look at naughty pictures and write comments on other people's YouTube video about how much they suxxor. And everyone needs it to communicate with friends and family -- it's practically a human right. Even the government understands how crucial Web access is to the economy, so much so it has decided everyone in the UK should be able to connect to the Internet at speeds of no less than 2Mbps.

The problem with broadband in the UK is that our ancient copper cabling can prevent decent ADSL speeds -- and let's be honest, cable broadband isn't exactly widespread outside built-up areas. Two solid megs is a smashing idea, but what can you do if you're getting less than that, or worse still, can't get broadband at all? Well, the helpful chaps at have come up with a new initiative to track what it neatly calls Notspots and build up a map of the UK's broadband infrastructure.

There are two kinds of people it's looking to hear from. The first group are people who can't get any fixed-line broadband at a reasonable cost, so if you're racking up massive mobile data bills, this includes you. The second group are those who have broadband, but aren't getting 2Mbps.

Hopefully, as more people add their location and problems, the site will be able to provide some pretty accurate statistics about where problem areas are. What we think will be most interesting is where urban problem areas are -- while it's obvious that some remote areas have difficulties, it can be just as hard finding fast broadband in cities too.

The site includes a broadband speed checker, so you can be sure of your downstream speed before you submit your details. There are a multitude of reasons you might be getting slow broadband, including damaged lines, broken equipment or just a bad ISP. Such problems will make the raw data challenging to interpret, but we hope the ThinkBroadband team can make a go of it -- after all, everyone deserves decent Internet access.