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IBM and the Local Futures Group to release On the Move: a look at the social uses of mobile and wireless communications.


New research launched today by IBM has identified a "mobile underclass". This underclass consists of people living in remote or rural areas who are excluded from reaping the benefits of new economy jobs and services because technologies are not available to them that would enable a mobile lifestyle.

On the Move asks if mobile technologies can do anything to help alleviate some of the real problems of declining rural economies.

Today's Rural Economy
The 'knowledge economy' in the UK currently threatens to bypass large areas of rural Britain, which seems trapped in a cycle of low skills/low value work - the countryside still faces a drain of its young and better-qualified people who cannot find sufficient opportunities locally. Additionally, in many rural areas, agriculture and tourism have been hard hit by the combination of foot and mouth, BSE and the world-wide downturn in the tourism market.

The Wireless Government Initiative
Government policy is currently seeking to build a more diversified, high value economy in rural areas - ICT (Information Communications Technology), wireless and mobile applications, are a key part of the government's plans.

IBM Research: A Wireless Rural Region
This recently launched research commissioned by IBM has found that in rural areas, more than most, mobility, or the ability to work, communicate and entertain ourselves on the move, is the killer application.

In a rural community there is not the demand for broadband connectivity that there is in more urban areas. Installing fixed wireless systems, as a means of delivering high-speed Internet access, leap-frogs this need for broadband.

A wireless-led initiative has the potential to reduce distance whilst simultaneously building skills and networks in your region.

To find out how this latest research effects your region, or to obtain a copy of the full report / executive summary, please contact:

Tracey Farrant/Gillie Tennant,
Brodeur Worldwide (on behalf of IBM)
Tel: 01753 790700
tfarrant@uk.brodeur.com/gtennant@uk.brodeur.com

On the Move was written by the Local Futures Group and sponsored by IBM.

Notes
The Local Futures Group is a research and strategy consultancy that provides a geographical perspectiveon economic and social change. Research, which is carried out in both single projects and broader research programmes covers the knowledge economy and society, e-governance and the new approaches to community development and regeneration.

IBM is the world's leading e-business company, offering a wide range of services, solutions, software and technologies that allow businesses to take full advantage of the exploding wireless market. IBM's pervasive computing and wireless solutions extend new and existing e-business applications to the emerging class of connected devices and appliances.

IBM has pioneered mobile e-business across many industries, geographic locations, and the three key business segments: business-to-enterprise; business-to-business; and business-to-consumer. Together with our partners, we have developed mobile solutions in the health care, financial services, retail, travel and telecommunications industries.

More information about IBM can be found on the web at www.ibm.com.

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