Consumer panel sets sights on the 40% not online
While the UK in terms of broadband coverage sits at around 99%, there are still around 40% of the population who are still not yet considered online. The Communications Consumer Panel which advises Ofcom has laid out its Work Plan for 2009/2010.
"Broadband will soon be an essential part of people's lives, but being unable to use online services will put many people at a significant disadvantage - broadband will no longer be just 'nice to have'."Anna Bradley, Chairman, Communications Consumer Panel
The plan will focus on three main areas:
- Universal service - influencing decisions about the services that should be available to everyone now and in the future so that they reflect the views of consumers and citizens.
- Consumer and citizen empowerment - influencing policy interventions so that they reflect, and are designed to meet, the full spectrum of consumers' and citizens' needs.
- Trust and security - highlighting concerns about security and misuse of personal data, and the potential for people to be deterred from going online or getting the most out of being online.
There are many barriers to online inclusion, with the availability of a broadband service being just one small part of the jigsaw. We are sure there are plenty of readers out there who have family and friends who have no desire to be online at home, but will ask for information or visit to do what little they need. Some commentators have said that broadband as a utility is a middle-class thing, which when you consider the costs of a computer, annual virus subscriptions etc will mean a fair amount of disposable income is needed on top of even a cheap broadband subscription, but conversely there are probably lots of powerful business people and politicians who simply rely on their PA to deal with all the online clutter.
This desire for digital inclusion, perhaps explains some of the emphasis on mobile broadband solutions in the Digital Britain report. The UK has some 10 million more mobile phones than people and with handsets becoming more capable plus the wide range of tariffs they are perhaps a better proposition than trying to get the whole UK using a netbook/PC/Mac.