Latest BT analysis of Internet access

Published on: 13/04/2006

According to the latest figures, 51 per cent of the UK adult population (24.2 million) are digitally excluded in the most basic sense of having no access to a home computer or the Internet. When extrapolated to 2025, it is conservatively believed this will reduce to 23 million adults. While this might seem like slight progress, it was pointed out that this 'hard core of digitally excluded' will be even more adrift in a high-technology society - the divide between the digital haves and have nots will be even more marked.

The outlook is worse for registered disabled users. Currently, there are 3.4 million such adults in the UK of which 2.4 million (70 per cent) are digitally excluded. Assuming that disabled exclusion rates remain constant, 3.6 million registered disabled adults could be information outcasts in 2025. In other words, the registered disabled will increase as a proportion of the total digitally excluded from 10 per cent today to 16 per cent in 2025.

But is the digital divide in the UK a matter of education, or of the cost and affordability of technology or even of age or geography? These were some of the questions raised by the report, which was carried out by the Future Foundation on behalf of BT and included interviews with various IT experts as well as publicly available data from the Statistics Office. It was predominantly based, however, on the data and trends identified by the British Home Panel Study carried out by Essex University, which covers 12,000 UK consumers.