Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

Not online, not included?

with one comment

Ofcom’s Communications Consumer Panel, whose role is to influence Ofcom, government, the EU and service and equipment providers on behalf of the communications interests of UK citizens, has published research which indicates that UK citizens increasingly regard their broadband connections as essential to their daily living.

The research, which was commissioned in part as a means of influencing the Digital Britain project, the final report of which is expected to be published later this month, was based on a series of interviews with groups of people throughout the UK backed by a survey of a representative sample of 2,000 adults across the UK. It has produced a number of interesting conclusions about how much value people place on their broadband connections:

– 73 per cent of people with broadband describe it as ‘essential’ or ‘important’, a figure which indicates broadband is viewed more highly than mobile phones, landlines or digital TV

– 84 per cent agreed that it should be possible to have broadband at home regardless of where people live; while 81 per cent agreed that it is ‘everyone’s right’ to be able to have broadband at home

– of online activities currently most in use, people place most value on services which are not particualrly demanding in terms of access speeds (accessing information, communications and carrying out transactions). However, a considerable proportion are already using their connections for activities requiring higher access speeds of ‘around 2 Mbps’ (downloading and streaming TV services)

– broad support for the government decision to intervene to ensure consistent access to broadband wherever people live.

Furthermore, the Consumer Panel believes that 2 Mbps is the minimum download speed needed to use services like the BBC iPlayer – but that, at the same time, it will be necessary to keep this under review, on the basis of a consumer test of the speed of service necessary to use those services and activities that consumers think should be available to everyone, so that it does not become outmoded. On both these issues, the Consumer Panel would seem to be close to our policy position, set out in the joint response that Connect and the CWU made to the Digital Britain report.

For some, the notion of seeing broadband as essential as water or electricity might be a foreign one – somewhat akin to the notion that poverty should be defined as absolute, not relative – but the Consumer Panel’s blog sets out some very cogent reasons for why this might be so: people without broadband are already potentially seriously disadvantaged in terms of accessing the best offers on services, a situation that can only get worse as the online presence becomes more pervasive. The blog concludes: ‘We are moving to a society where you have to have access to the internet to get the best deals, the best information or the best educational support – and as the panel’s research indicates: this should not happen without a parallel effort to get everyone online with a decent speed connection, and with the support they need to reap the benefits.’

Can’t argue with that.


Written by Calvin

03/06/2009 at 2:17 pm

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. um “73 per cent of people with broadband” well they would say that 🙂 the result for the population would be a better guide when setting policy for the country.

    and 2k inst a teribly big sample from what i recall of my statistics


    04/06/2009 at 12:21 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s