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Broadband expert responds to the Office for National Statistics internet users 2015 statistical bulletin

22 May 2015 : Dan Howdle, telecoms expert and editor-in-chief of broadband, TV and mobile comparison site Cable.co.uk comments on the key findings in today's internet users report from the Office for National statistics

Key finding:

In quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2015, 86% of adults (44.7 million) in the UK had used the internet in the last 3 months (recent users), an increase of 1 percentage point since the quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2014 estimate of 85%.

Dan Howdle:

"1% doesn’t sound like a lot on the grand scheme, but with a population of 64.1m people in the UK, it represents 641,000 adults using the internet that weren’t before. That’s a similar number to the entire population of Sheffield or Bristol.

The pressures at play here are those of our increasing dependence on the convenience of a digital lifestyle – banking, surfing, social, working – coupled with the widening availability of broadband infrastructure and the increasing affordability of the devices that utilise it."

Key finding:

11% of adults (5.9 million) had never used the internet, falling by 1 percentage point since quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2014.

Dan Howdle:

"Nearly 6m UK residents still remains a staggering number who have never used the internet, and although the number of over-75s who have never used it has decreased by 15% over the last four years, much of that number is made up of the mature end of the UK population.

Despite societal pressures and increasing availability and affordability, it goes to show that it remains a hard ask to convince people who have lived long lives without the need for tablets, smartphones or laptops, that they need them to, in their retirement years."

Key finding:

In quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2015, the proportion of adults who were recent internet users was lower for those that were disabled (68%), compared with those that were not disabled (92%).

In quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2015 the proportion of adults aged 16 to 24 years who were recent internet users was lower for those that were disabled (95% recent users) compared with those that were not disabled (99% recent users). The proportion of adults aged 75 years and over who were recent internet users was also lower for those that were disabled (27% recent users) compared with those that were not disabled (40% recent users).

Dan Howdle:

"Accessibility is the issue here. While things are improving in regard to making websites more accessible, for people who are deaf, blind or have disabilities that present physical barriers, the internet as a whole is still a very long way from where it needs to be.

From the point of view of webmasters, this is often not because they wish to ignore blind or deaf people, or those with disabilities, from enjoying their content to the same level as anyone else, but because the steps that need to be taken to make it accessible to everyone are resource-intensive.

Google, the world’s biggest search engine, could play a key role in increasing accessibility across the web in simply rewarding websites that go that extra mile with better rankings in their search results. This would offset the cost for many."

Notes to editors

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Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades. Having spent 12 years at the coalface of consumer telecoms research, initiating and running projects both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now Director of Communications and in-house consumer telecoms expert for Cable.co.uk.

An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer who frequently appears on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers and their websites, Dan leads a team of journalists and communications folk who spend their days researching and reporting on problems faced by UK broadband, TV and mobile customers both on an individual and macro level.

Dan campaigns on many issues currently facing consumers of broadband, TV and mobile products in the UK. These include, but are not limited to: Rural broadband provision; mobile coverage; broadband, TV and mobile customer contract issues; broadband and mobile broadband speeds; switching and money-saving; infrastructural challenges; pricing, changes and structures; shifts in technology and the marketplace; telecoms regulation, policy and law; fines, adjudications and policy changes; mergers and closures of UK providers; annual financials and more.

Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality. He also administers and adjudicates the yearly Broadband Service Quality Awards and sits on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.

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