Why have 7.1 million UK adults still never used the Internet?
With so many of us taking the Internet for granted, it seems impossible that there could be anyone in the UK left who has never been online.
However, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of UK adults who have still never accessed the Internet stands at a staggering 7.1 million. Although this figure has gone down from the 7.4 million it was a year ago, it still seems incredible that millions of us are unable to do something that the rest don’t give a second thought to.
The data from the ONS revealed that age is one of the biggest contributing factors when it comes to determining who is and isn’t using the web. Although 99% of people aged 16-24 have been online, this number shrinks dramatically for those aged 75+ when only 34% of that age group uses the web. Age isn’t the only obstacle though.
It’s estimated that 3.7 million people can’t go online because they have a disability and don’t have access to specialist equipment that makes surfing the web easier, representing more than half of the 7.1 million.
Is money or motivation the barrier?
Low income is the third main reason cited, where it is reported nearly a quarter of a million UK residents still aren’t able to afford their own hardware to get online. According to the survey from the ONS, 284,000 respondents said that because they earn less than £200, getting a broadband service is not a priority.
Ironically, this is the group that could benefit the most from being able to surf the web because it would enable them to work out the best deals on utilities and other basic essentials, as well as potentially change their employment situation if they need to.
Age, disability and low income aside, that still leaves a large number unaccounted for. This gap has been a much debated topic in recent months as those living in rural areas continue to vent their frustrations about the fact that no matter how much they want or need it, regular broadband or Internet access is still not available to them.
Although the Government continues to maintain that plans to ensure that everyone of working age will be online by the end of 2015 are on target, each time the date gets near, the final end date for delivery gets pushed out.
Roll-out has been slow, which means that remote areas continue to suffer. Although the larger broadband companies may be taking their time to resolve this issue, there has been light at the end of the tunnel for those living in the countryside thanks to the widespread availability of satellite broadband – the perfect solution to rural areas.
An alternative to ADSL, satellite broadband, as the name suggests, uses a satellite connection to provide a permanent connection to the Internet. The end result enables Internet and voice connectivity anywhere in the world – therefore providing much needed relief for those who couldn’t otherwise get online.
The internet is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ utility
With less than two years left to fulfill their promise, only time will tell if the Government starts to do more to improve Internet connectivity to the elderly, those with disabilities and on low incomes and those living in rural areas. With access to all Government resources and services (including homework and benefit claims) moving online, its all the more important that people understand that getting online with fast broadband is important for their future quality of life.