Digital Skills

Ofcom Online Nation Report 2021

Ofcom’s Online Nation 2021 report provides a snapshot of 2020.

Key points:

  • 94% of UK households had internet access in March 2021 with 6% of homes (around one and a half million) without access.
  • UK adults spent more than 3.5 hours online each day in 2020 and spent nearly £2.45 billion on mobile apps across the year.
  • Fixed broadband is by far the most common method for connecting to the internet at home at 92%, mobile data at 49% and mobile broadband at 16%.
  • The smartphone is the most-used device for accessing the internet for all age groups apart from those aged 65+ who access via computer mostly. One in ten adults said they use only a smartphone to go online.
  • Teenagers are spending more money online than offline.
  • 59% of UK children use social media by the time they are 11 and 95% by the age of 15.
  • The UK’s online shopping bill increased by almost 50% to nearly £113 billion.
  • In total, online entertainment and audio-visual media generated £5.6 billion in UK revenue.

The full report can be found here.

Government’s Plan for Growth

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today published a joint open letter to businesses on the Government’s Plan for Growth.

The Plan for Growth builds on the best of the Industrial Strategy from 2017 and supports the transition to net zero by 2050. It sets out the government’s path to invest in three pillars – infrastructure, skills, and innovation. The focus is creating and supporting jobs, helping to drive growth, and seizing opportunities from Britain’s independence. The Build Back Better Business Council has been convened to draw on the expertise of industry and government to ensure that the plan for growth is delivered successfully and in partnership with business. Today’s meeting will look at the innovation pillar and will discuss the government’s upcoming Innovation Strategy, due to be published in the Summer. (more…)

BDUK Superfast Programme evaluation

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…)

£940 million of support so far from UK telecoms operators during COVID-19

According to a report by Assembly Research,  the value of the initiatives put in place by the UK telecoms sector amounts to some £940 million, with many likely to remain in place until things return to normal, whatever that may be. Of more than 50 initiatives tracked by Assembly, 20 have directly addressed the needs of the most vulnerable (worth £340m), 19 have been made available to all customers (£250m), six are targeted at key healthcare workers (£220m), and four have aimed to help small and medium-sized businesses recover (£130m). Similar initiatives have been launched around the world which Assembly has been tracking on a country-by-country basis since the start of the pandemic.

 

Industry supports remote learning during lockdown

Since March 2020 telecoms providers and broadcasters have implemented measures to keep the UK connected. This includes additional help for vulnerable customers, NHS staff, care homes and hospitals. They have offered discounted broadband services or lifted the data caps, given free data packages on mobile, zero-rated websites, WiFi vouchers, paused charges for sports and other channels, and standalone education resources. (more…)

Launch of Government’s National Data Strategy

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden announced Government’s National Data Strategy to drive growth, boost innovation, create new jobs and improve public services. Government will develop a clear policy framework to determine what interventions are needed to unlock the value of data across the economy and help drive the recovery from Covid-19. It proposes an overhaul in the use of data across the public sector and a programme of work will be launched that will transform the way data is managed, used, shared internally within government, and with wider public sectors organisations. (more…)

Ofcom publications

Consultation: Copper retirement – process for determining when copper regulation can be removed (supplementary consultation to the WFTMR)

The consultation proposes to delay decisions about Openreach’s copper retirement process until after Ofcom has determined the outcome of the WFTMR. Justification is that Openreach’s fibre roll-out is still in its early stages and Ofcom would prefer to wait for more details on the Salisbury and Mildenhall trials.  The consultation period ends on 3 September and the outcome of the WFTMR is due to be published in Q4 2020/21.  (more…)

UK is world leader in online safety innovation

In the Online Harms White Paper government set out a programme of action. As part of this DCMS has published a study ‘Safer technology, safer users: The UK as a world leader in Safety Tech’ which provides an overview of the UK’s Safety Technology sector. It highlights some of the UK’s most innovative businesses focused on tackling online harms through a range of technical solutions.

The report sets out government’s proposed measures to boost the Safety Tech sector in the UK, as well as measures to help users manage their own safety online and the wide range of Safety Tech products and services that already help make online platforms safer.

The full report can be found here.

Government launches ‘The Skills Toolkit’

A new online learning platform was launched today by Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, to help people while they are asked to stay at home.

The Skills Toolkit is made up of free online resources to help improve digital and numeracy skills to and allows furloughed employees in particular the opportunity to keep up their skills development while at home. Digital courses include tools for using email and social media more effectively at work, to creating online content developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding, to understand the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage, as well as Open University courses. All courses are free, online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace.

(more…)

Broadband-enabled BBC “Bitesize Daily” to help deliver remote learning across the UK

The last month has shown more than ever the importance of digital connectivity to all our lives. Despite some initial concerns in the media, the UK’s broadband and mobile networks have been able to comfortably accommodate traffic increases with existing capacity. There have inevitably been peaks in demand, but we are now seeing a general plateau pattern across the UK and Europe.

The UK’s public service broadcasters (PSBs) have seen increases in demand too. During the week 23-29 March, the BBC reported a record-breaking 198% increase in unique visitors to its BBC Bitesize website (4.8m, beating a previous record of 3.3m). Its children’s entertainment channels were also in high demand: with a 94% increase in requests for CBBC (10.6m). The last few weeks have seen record numbers of people using BBC Sounds too, more than 3.5 million each week, with listeners turning to live radio as well as on demand content.

Today – ordinarily the start of the summer term for most children and teachers now living in exclusively online classrooms – marks the launch by the BBC of a new and extensive educational initiative. The aim is to help ensure that every child in the UK has the opportunity continue to follow the appropriate core parts of their nation’s school curriculum during COVID-19. (more…)