The Communications Consumer Panel (CCP) have warned that unless some changes are made to public policy, the current ‘digital divide' will continue to grow until the gulf is insurmountable. 22% of all UK adults still don't use the internet and with the growing need for connectivity, this is something that the CCP say needs to be addressed in order to ensure that all consumers can access high-speed internet connections and the associated benefits.
Speaking at yesterday's opening plenary of the Go ON: ND2012 conference, Bob Warner said: "There is an increasing drive for public and commercial services to be online, but about 11 million people (22% of adults) in the UK still do not use the internet at home – and in some areas around the UK this percentage is far higher, as it is in the most deprived areas of Glasgow.”
This, he went on to say, puts a significant minority of people at risk of being unable to access online benefits and services. In order to address this, the CCP suggest that it's now necessary for the government to further push broadband roll-out and provide online support.
"Sustainable growth for the future can only be achieved if broadband is used by most consumers and businesses,” Warner added.
Whilst many older UK citizens have been averse to getting online, citing the phone as an easier and quicker method of communication, they are not the only section of society who is resistant to the idea. In part this is due to the lack of broadband in rural areas, but it is also due to a lack of support from the government in providing a basic digital education.
Bob Warner said that the research has implications for funding, growth and policy: "The distance is increasing between consumers who are online, with access to new services and faster broadband, and people who remain anchored in the offline world.
"Unless fundamental action is taken now to give people the skills to exploit the advantages of the internet, the digital divide risks becoming a digital gulf,” he concluded.