Home internet access in the UK continues to rise, and one in five adults who do not have the internet at home are expected to sign up within the next six months, according to a new report from Ofcom.
The UK government's Digital Britain report outlines plans to ensure that all homes have a bare minimum of a 2Mbit/s broadband connection, and Ofcom looked into the primary barriers for adoption for the 30 per cent of UK adults who do not have internet access at home.
The regulator found that many of those without broadband at home are simply not interested in having it, but nearly a third said that it was too expensive or they did not have the knowledge or skills to use it.
"Broadband is becoming increasingly important to people's ability to participate in the economy and society," said Peter Phillips, partner for strategy and market development at Ofcom.
"The research shows some genuine opportunities for policy makers wishing to drive the take-up of internet services. But it also shows that some creativity will be required if we wish to capture the imaginations of those who have yet to engage with the benefits the internet may bring."
Many citizens who have 'self-excluded' themselves tend to be of the older generation, and nearly two-thirds of this group have never used a computer. More than two-fifths of this group would choose to remain unconnected even if they were given a free PC and broadband connection, citing 'indifference' and a 'lack of need for home internet access'.
Around half of those who would like to have internet access at home, but for some reason do not, felt that it was too costly and were concerned about being able to afford the monthly payments. Some 27 per cent said that the 'cost of a computer' or 'not owning a computer' was their main reason. Some also highlighted a lack of knowledge about the internet as their primary reason.
In response to the findings, Ofcom has proposed several ideas to encourage internet take-up among this group, including half-price computers and discounted monthly tariffs. This was a popular choice with those in a typical family environment, which Ofcom described as employed, under 44 and with children, while free training was most important to people who had retired.
James Parker, broadband manager at comparison site MoneySupermarket.com, highlighted the low cost of some broadband services available today, but warned that users should do their homework first.
"Ofcom's latest research shows that a third of people not connected to the internet worry about the financial implications of having broadband, but there are options from as little as £10 per month," he said.
"If you already have a TV subscription it is likely that your provider will throw in broadband for free, so ring them up and haggle for a good deal. Before committing to a contract people should do research on the internet at work, at a friend's or in the library to make sure they look at all the options available to them, and that they sign up to a deal that suits their needs."
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