A new Ofcom report has revealed that 1.5 million homes in the UK are still without efficient broadband installed.
Despite evidence that the country’s digital divide is beginning to narrow due to the pandemic, 6% of UK homes still remain offline.
Research revealed that people over the age of 65 and low-income households are the most likely to be without internet access.
However, the digital divide in Britain appears to be narrowing, with the number of homes without a proper connection reducing from 11% in March 2020 to 6% in the same month of this year.
Additionally, adults which previously had limited digital skills have “embraced” online shopping, digital banking and video calling friends and family, said Ofcom, while younger people acted as “IT support,” aiding less digitally confident friends and relatives.
Commenting on the research, Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Strategy and Research Group Director said: “For many people, lockdown will leave a lasting legacy of improved online access and better digital understanding. But for a significant minority of adults and children, it has only served to intensify the digital divide.
“We will continue to work with Government and other partner organisations to promote digital literacy and ensure that people of all ages and backgrounds are empowered to share in the benefits of the internet.”
Ofcom data also showed that around half of adults who remain offline say they find the internet “too complicated”, or it holds no interest for them, while more than a third say that a lack of correct equipment is a barrier towards connectivity.
Additionally, a lack of effective internet has left children with difficulties studying during the UK’s lockdowns, with 4% relying solely on mobile internet access and 2% only able to get online using a smartphone.
Around 5% of school-aged children from the most financially vulnerable homes were more likely than those in the least financially vulnerable households (2%) to have mobile-only access.
One in five children (17%) also did not have consistent access to a suitable device for their online home learning. This increased to 27% of children from households classed as most financially vulnerable.
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Attempts are being made to bring broadband connections to financially vulnerable people in the UK, and those living in remote areas that may be unable to gain access to internet connections.
In March this year, the UK Government said it was aiming to provide half of all households in the UK with access to gigabit speeds by the end of 2021
Plans to connect more UK properties to superfast full-fibre broadband have moved forward with the launch of the £5-billion Project Gigabit scheme.
Additionally, in October last year, the Scottish and UK Governments announced intentions to combine broadband voucher schemes to subsidise the costs of building gigabit-speed broadband networks in remote areas of Scotland.
A new report has warned that the UK will miss its 2025 target to roll out full-fibre broadband.
However, a report in January of this year by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) warned that failures mean hard to reach premises will be struggling with slow broadband for many years to come.
The UK Government’s plan to connect all the UK’s premises to superfast internet by 2025 has been “scaled back”, with criticism saying even this target is “unlikely to be met,” the DCMS said.