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March 9, 2010

Watchdog urges government to refocus broadband strategy

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by Darren Allan

A consumer watchdog’s latest round of research has indicated that many poorer UK citizens who aren’t connected to the Internet view the web as irrelevant to them.

These findings come from Consumer Focus, and are aimed at the government who are currently trying to get more low-income families online, with their universal service commitment which aims for 2Mbps broadband for everyone in the country by 2012.

Consumer Focus believes the government should hone its message for those families, to get them to really understand the benefits of being online.

According to Consumer Focus’s research, only 29% of households who earn less than £11,500 per year have net access at home.

These low-income families are missing out on savings of up to £560 per year, which can be achieved shopping and paying bills online.

Consumer Focus also believes other money-making facets of the online world should be emphasised, such as the ability to make money on auction sites like eBay.

Along with the financial incentives, other factors, such as fears of identity theft, also need to be addressed to encourage folks to actively want to get online.

Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive of Consumer Focus, commented: “Government has made it a priority to encourage people to get online, especially those on low incomes.”

“Cost is not the only issue and if the Government wants more people online they need to deal with consumers’ fears about the internet such as the dangers of identity theft and viruses.”

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