The latest Focus on the Digital Age report from the Office for National Statistics reveals that, while internet use is well established and growing fast, the 'digital divide' remains a problem.

According to the report, one in twelve UK households (8%) have no access to the internet, digital TV, or mobile phones.

This 'digital divide' is linked to household income -  nine out of ten of the richest 10% of households have internet access, while for the poorest 10% of households only a fifth have internet access.

Though retired people, or 'silver surfers' are increasingly using the internet, there is a divide between old and young. 55% of over 50s surveyed had not used a PC in the past three months, while for those aged 16-30, the figure was 13%.

While the proportion of business selling over the internet has risen,  with 15% of non-financial businesses with ten or more employees selling online, compared with just 7% in 2002.

Other findings from the report were:

  • 18% of UK adults sold goods over the internet in 2006, more than double the level in 2003–04.
  • The proportion of households in the UK with digital TV grew from 19% in 1996–97 to 65% in 2005–06.
  • 98% of companies with 1,000+ employees had a dedicated website in 2005, up from 95% in 2002.
  • For companies with 10–49 employees, the proportion rose from 54% to 66%.
  • 44% of UK households had a broadband connection in 2006, well above the EU average of 32%.

A report by Point Topic in October last year suggested that, among the proportion of the population without internet access, almost 75% didn't feel that internet access was important to them.  

Talking to, John Fisher of digital inclusion charity Citizens Online, says that a proportion of the population in being left behind by advances in technology. He quotes an interesting stat -  that one third of the UK population (16m people) has never been online.

Graham Charlton

Published 19 March, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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