UK 'losing digital divide battle'

In early 2006, 11.2 million UK homes - or 44 per cent - didn't have an internet connection

The UK households that are not yet connected to the internet are getting increasingly resistant to the web, a report from research Point Topic states.

Point Topic's latest analysis on the state of UK broadband focuses on the households left behind by 'broadband Britain'. It warns that the barrier of resistance to getting these homes internet access will result in a deepening of the digital divide.

The research company said that in early 2006, 11.2 million UK homes - or 44 per cent - didn't have an internet connection and, of those, more than 70 per cent said they were unlikely to consider setting up a connection. This number is up from just over 50 per cent last year.

"Many of those who thought it was important to have the internet have signed up to a service already," said Katja Mueller, chief analyst at Point Topic.

"As the number of non-access households shrinks, those that are left are increasingly resistant to its appeal. This could prove a high barrier to achieving much higher levels of internet access."

Many resist the idea of getting connected

The vast majority of Britons have heard of the internet, but only a quarter (26 per cent) of people from non-access households believe they have a good knowledge of how to use it.

Of those without an internet connection, 43 per cent even declined to answer when asked about the likelihood of them setting up a net connection in the next six months, with only 16 per cent considering it 'very likely' or 'fairly likely'.

Reluctance to join the online revolution is down to three things: lack of need or interest, the cost or other material constraints, and a lack of the necessary skills, the report said. This lack of skills needs to be addressed if more people are to cross the digital divide, Mueller said.