Push to increase internet take-up needs to be done carefully
Currently in the UK some 60% of households have broadband of one form or another, and of the remaining percentage some 55% have decided they do not want it at all. Ofcom boss Ed Richards features in the national press talking on this issue, in both the Guardian and Telegraph.
"55 per cent have decided they do not want it at all, even though they can afford it – we call these the 'self excluded'.
Even though people are bombarded by messages about the range of benefits of being online – whether buying cheap insurance or catching up on last week's soaps – there seems to be millions of people who are not yet persuaded. We need to tackle this challenge as much as tackle the challenge of low-income households who can't afford access."Ed Richards (Ofcom CEO), talking to London School of Economics
There is a real danger that any campaigns to push broadband at people will be seen as having a political bias to them, and if people feel brow beaten into taking it up it may have the reverse effect on people. Providing help for those that want broadband but cannot afford it, has merit but already some view the push to make all national and local government services available online as a way for local services to be further eroded.
One interesting comment from Ed Richards was that a great many people lumbered with slow broadband now can increase their broadband speeds with simple and cheap changes to the wiring in their home. Regular readers of our news will know we periodically mention these issues, and they form the bread and butter of daily life on our forums. The worrying aspect is that broadband providers appear to ignore customers and not guide them through getting the most from their broadband. One great irony of increasing takeup of DSL based services is that as more lines carry ADSL and ADSL2+, crosstalk between lines can actually reduce the connection speed slightly.