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Broadband? So what, say four in 10 adults

More than four out of 10 adults would not use broadband even if it was available, according to research.

The findings raise a question over the government's plan to oblige network operators to provide a minimum 2mbps universal broadband service nationally.

An Ipsos MORI poll for the communications regulator Ofcom found 42% of adults do not have the internet at home due to lack of interest or need. They tended to be older and retired, and 61% have never used a computer, the pollster said. Some 30% said they could not afford it.

"This group shares a sense of indifference, with many struggling to express any reason why they should have the internet at home. Some also felt they were too old or believed it is for younger people," it said.

The broadband universal service obligation is a keystone of the government's Digital Britain report, which is due out on 16 June.

Network operators and broadcasters have lobbied intensely for communications minister Stephen Carter to grant money and/or guaranteed returns on investment to upgrade and switch to digital technology. They said they need this to pay for the extension of broadband access to rural regions.

Others, notably content creators such as musicians and video makers, have argued that it was more important to create online content that customers were willing to pay for. Satisfying that demand would help provide the capital for the switch, they said.

Despite the cool reception from senior citizens, Ofcom said one in five adults who do not currently have the internet at home are likely to sign up in the next six months.

And it follows the recent Communications Consumer Panel research which revealed that many people already regard it as essential to have broadband at home.

The latest Ofcom research looks at why those people do not have the internet at home and what would stop them from taking it up in future.

Those intending to get the internet in the next six months are more likely to be younger, use the internet already outside of the home, are working and have children.

Their main reason for accessing the internet is for information (36%), followed by communicating with friends and family (26%), keeping up with technology (25%), and because friends and family recommend it (25%).


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