According to Ofcom’s Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report 2020/21, the UK’s digital divide has narrowed over the last year as the proportion of homes without internet access reduced from 11% in March 2020 to 6% in March 2021 (though around 1.5m homes still remain offline). Adults with previously limited digital skills have embraced online shopping, digital banking and video calling friends and relatives – while younger people acted as IT support, helping older or less digitally-confident friends and relatives get connected. (more…)
The DCMS commissioned Ipsos Mori to carry out a State Aid evaluation of the UK National Broadband Scheme which was established in 2010 to help extend high-speed broadband connectivity to areas, including those that were not expected to benefit from commercial rollouts. The scheme has reached over 96% of premises in the UK today and provided £2.7bn worth of economic benefits. (more…)
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published its report Improving Broadband. It states that the revised target of at least 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025 is challenging and there is a risk that the very hardest to reach premises will be struggling with slow broadband for many years to come. Other concerns include the lack of detail about how the £1.2bn of the £5bn funding will be used to support the roll-out to the hardest-to-reach 20% of the UK’s 31m premises, and the slow progress in delivering the policy and legislative changes sought by industry. The report sets out the PAC’s conclusions and recommendations.
It is worth noting that gigabit-capable broadband networks (FTTP and DOCSIS 3.1) now cover 37.4% of UK premises, which is an increase from 22.1% six months ago. (more…)
The impact of COVID-19 on the digitally excluded
Broadband Stakeholder Group publishes research by Savanta ComRes into the impact of Covid-19 on digital exclusion in the UK
Broadband Stakeholder Group has published primary research on digital exclusion undertaken by the leading research consultancy, Savanta ComRes. The research closely examines the attitudinal challenges that the UK faces in encouraging greater internet adoption by 3.6 million digitally excluded citizens, alongside the financial, and skills-based aptitudes. The research examines the lived experience of 30 respondents during the first phase of the pandemic. The results suggest that that we may now need to broaden the scope of policy questions that relate to the pathways online for the digitally excluded.
The qualitative in-depth telephone interviews, undertaken between August and September 2020 by Savanta ComRes, highlighted the following findings:
- Internet adoption was primarily driven by social needs during lockdown restrictions and the physical separation from family and friends; with entertainment or online shopping purposes being more secondary drivers and benefits
- Concerns surrounding the benefit and value of digital connectivity and a lack of digital skills were key contributors to digital exclusion, with responders citing inability to decipher the steps to go online or build the digital literacy skills required. However, notably, attitudinal factors related to a perceived lack of need contributed to digital exclusion, with some respondents not seeing the benefits of learning digital literacy skills.
- Respondents cited the negative aspects of being online, such as the ‘keyboard warrior syndrome’ linked to the rudeness of people who are compulsively wedded to their digital devices, as a reason for not adopting digital skills during lockdown. However, for some parents digital literacy was required for their children’s educational needs to do online classes and homework.
- On a more positive front, fears around scamming, digital fraud, and identify theft that online adopters held prior to going online pre-pandemic have proved unfounded, prompting many to be grateful that they had to develop digital literacy skills.
As part of a weekly survey commissioned by Ofcom over the next three months, analysis of the proportion of UK adults digitally excluded, including those who do not use the internet or have access to the internet at home or have access to any connected devices, has been published. It looks at the likelihood of digital exclusion by a number of different characteristics including: age, living alone, having a condition that limits or impairs their use of communications services, being financially vulnerable. (more…)
Earlier this year, BT and KCOM were designated as Universal Service Providers (USP) to deliver broadband universal service connections and services. Ofcom set the conditions that will apply to them. From 20 March 2020 consumers will be able to request these services. The USPs are entitled to claim any costs that would not be appropriate for them to cover. Ofcom is proposing rules and procedures for these providers in order to make a claim for any unfair cost burden involved. The procedures would apply to the broadband USO, but also to any other universal service obligations.
The ONS this week published their annual Internet Access – households and individuals report.
The release highlighted a number of trends which we have witnessed over the last few years, not least that household internet access has largely plateaued;
With a high penetration of households and more people using mobile internet than ever before, understandably usage remains extremely high with 87% of adults using the internet daily in 2019. Whilst this includes the traditional demographic trend of younger people tending to use the internet more, 2019 saw the first year in which more than half of adults aged 65 years and over shopped online;
Of course this still leaves a significant minority of people and households who do not have internet access. The reasons for this are relatively well understood in terms of access to connectivity, skills and financial restrictions. However, the overriding factor for the ONS release was attitude/awareness with 61% of households who do not have internet access saying they did not need it.
This ties in with the BSG’s recent research on digital inclusion.
Apprenticeship and Skills Minister Anne Milton has launched new qualifications designed to help the 1 in 5 adults currently with no or low basic digital skills learn essential digital skills and gain confidence being online.
The Broadband Stakeholder Group has today published a report looking into digital exclusion, unpicking the rationale behind the 8% of the UK population who have never been online. ComRes, who carried out the research, undertook both qualitative and quantitative research, surveying both the recently on-liners as well as the non-users. (more…)
The third Lloyds UK Consumer Digital Index released today looks into financial and digital capability in the UK for 2018. With a focus on digital skills, financial resilience, and inclusivity the report reveals improvements for those gaining digital skills, with 470,000 more than last year with new skills. Initiatives such as those set up last year by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Digital Skills Partnership have been credited with collaborating to promote best practice through the creation of a network of over 70 cross-sector bodies.
Government today laid legislation setting the design of the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). This follows Government confirmation in December last year that having access to high speed broadband would be a legal right.
The Broadband Stakeholder Group is delighted to invite you to our free Annual Conference on Thursday 2 November 2017.
Kick-starting with a keynote speech from Minister for Digital Matt Hancock, the Conference will focus on the future of digital communications, both in terms of infrastructure deployment and take-up of services.
This weekend saw two big developments in the bid to create a Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) with the Government launching its consultation on the design of a USO and BT making a voluntary offer to deliver this service.
Universality and Value for Money: Government Options for Designing the Broadband Universal Service ObligationMatthew Evans
The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) publishes report on the design considerations for a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO)
- Designing the USO is extremely complicated but the cost threshold for each premise is extremely sensitive
- BSG research shows that a cost threshold of between £1500-3000 maximises the net public benefit to the UK
- To maximise the number of premises that can get access to good quality broadband through the USO demand, aggregation is needed
- Where the cost of connecting premises is above the cost threshold then an alternative measure should be made available
The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) has today launched Impact of a Broadband USO in the UK, a report commissioned from Plum Consulting to analyse the impact of the design considerations of a potential broadband USO in the UK. This report complements the technical advice produced by Ofcom in December 2016 for Government.