How to fix the UK’s digital divide

From mobile phones to video game consoles, computers and TVs to internet routers, the UK is one of the most connected nations in the world.

But according to a new report from the UK-based digital rights organisation, we are also one of those most disconnected from our digital economy. 

The report, called Digital Divide: What is Missing From the Digital Economy in the UK, found that a quarter of the UK population does not own a broadband connection.

That number rises to 50 per cent among adults aged between 15 and 64, and to more than 60 per cent in young people.

The report also found that the number of people who have a broadband internet connection is low in many parts of the country.

The average broadband connection for people aged between 16 and 24 in the south and north-west of England is about 10Mbps. 

Digital Divide: Where is the digital divide?

The report found that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of UK households do not have a digital connection.

That is a drop of nearly one in five (16 per cent).

The number of households without a digital link dropped from 3.5 million in 2011 to 3.2 million in 2016. 

“The UK is the only advanced economy where only two-thirds of households have broadband internet access,” said Simon Copley, Digital Divide’s chief executive.

“Our report is the first to show the extent of the digital disconnect. 

It shows that despite the UK having one of Europe’s fastest broadband networks, many households and businesses are missing out on a vital digital investment. 

These data will help to inform the debate around digital infrastructure and investment in the future.”

The report recommends that the Government build on the existing £4bn Digital Economy Act to give the UK more access to broadband.

It also recommends that government departments should build on existing broadband schemes, such as the National Broadband Plan, and create new ones.

“The Digital Divide report is part of a wider government plan to build a more digitally inclusive economy and address some of the gaps in access to digital services,” said Copleys co-author, Laura Pidcock. 

Read more about Digital Divide here

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