The Office for National Statistics is good at doing what it is meant to do and produce statistics. The latest set of Internet Access figures for Great Britain have been published, and show how incredibly digitally connected the UK is.
The ONS does not track actual Internet access speeds, but the figures produced do help to underline how important Internet access is for the majority of the population, and which parts of the population may need the most effort if a goal of total digital inclusion is part of the UK vision as we move through the 21st century.
|Household Internet connection, by location, 2012|
|Cities and urban areas||Towns and suburbs||Rural areas||All households|
|Broadband via cable, fibre, ethernet||36%||25%||12%||30%|
|Broadband via satellite, public WiFi||7%||6%||5%||6%|
|Mobile broadband on handset||8%||7%||8%||8%|
|Mobile broadband via dongle||5%||4%||5%||5%|
|Dial up access||1%||1%||- (*)||1%|
|Mobile connection (less than 3G)||1%||1%||1%||1%|
The picture presented by the data, shows what many know already, that the fastest broadband connections are largely the domain of the cities and towns. The thinly populated areas which is the definition of rural used in this study, shows that ADSL is still the dominant connection method. What was interesting is that dial up did not feature in rural areas, perhaps this is because those in rural areas where dial up is the only option and they require Internet access will largely have already joined a satellite broadband service, or be using a mobile broadband connection. Using the EU definitions approximate figures are 13% of the UK population live in rural areas, 27% in towns or suburbs and the other 60% in the cities and urban areas.
It is possible that if good broadband was pushed deeper into the country, that the 80% of households accessing the Internet could be pushed higher, but when 54% of those without access are not interested then this is a difficult proposition. 8% of those without a connection, claim to have access to a connection elsewhere and for 14% cost was a reason for not having Internet access. There is unfortunately no data on broadband not being available, and oddly this has not been collected for some years.