Broadband News

ONS survey on Internet use shows homes with children lead the charge

The ONS has published its latest Internet access survey which shows the trends in Internet access within UK households, so we can see that since 1998 usage has increased steadily for the last 20 years and is levelling off at 90%reflecting a mature market i.e. Internet access is a choice people make and it is not compulsory.

Chart showing changes in Internet access for UK households
Trend of Internet access in UK households from 1998 to 2018

The statistics provide a very useful summary of what most people in the broadband industry know, but with the methodolgy of the Office of National Statistics behind them it should avoid the usual sort of bias that can arise from technology and comparison web sites that run smaller surveys.

We do feel the need to highlight some confusion around the interpretation of this survey, with one provider issuing a press comment using the 9 out of 10 households have internet access result from the survey to talk about failed broadband technology roll-outs and therefore 1 in 10 not able to access broadband. This is NOT what the survey is showing since the public does have a choice over whether to use the Internet at home and while many of use cannot envisage living without Internet access there are still many happy to not be using it. The following chart from the survey shows how internet access in the home varies across the different types of households.

Chart showing change in Internet access different types of UK households
Change since 2012 for how different types of households are using the Internet

Single adult households aged 65 and over are the least likely type of home to access to Internet , but this is changing rising by 23 percentage points to 59% in the last six years. Interestingly the survey indicates that in households with children internet access is running at 100%.

The survey does look at the devices people use to access the Internet, but makes no conclusions around the speeds that people are getting and using. The 100% use for households for children therefore does not mean that all these households are happy with their broadband connection of course and some will be using mobile networks rather than fixed line broadband services.

We want to support full fibre providers in getting more full fibre rolled out across the UK, but when misleading statements are made it does mean we have to question things. This is highlighted by the other statement in the comment that counting of full fibre connections is all that policy makers should be doing and really worries us about what is being said to policy makers that is not in the public domain.


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