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August 28, 2010

ONS says 9.2 million Brits have never been online

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by Darren Allan

The Office for National Statistics produced a report on Internet access yesterday, which showed that 9.2 million people in the UK have never been online. That figure represents 18% of the population, almost one in five.

At least that number was down from the figure the ONS reported in 2009, which was 10.2 million people, indicating that in the last year, 1 million more folks have sorted out an Internet connection.

It is, however, a more pessimistic set of statistics than the UK Online Measurement Company (an arm of Nielsen) published in July, and this will give the government, and Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox, some pause for thought.

UKOM’s report estimated that double this amount, 1.9 million surfers, had connected up to the web in the year previous to May 2010. The research company reckoned 1 million alone were silver surfers.

The new ONS report stated that the most likely folks never to have used the Internet were the over 65s, along with the widowed, those on low incomes, and those with no formal qualifications.

Other statistics highlighted by the ONS included the fact that 30.1 million people (60% of the population) said they used the Internet every day. Mobile Internet usage had also increased, predictably, with 45% accessing the web on the move, up from 40% in 2009. 2.7 million had used wireless hotspots, up from 0.7 million in 2007.

In terms of Internet usage, 17 million used the net to watch TV shows or listen to the radio. 54% used online banking services, and 43% had an active social networking or messaging account. 31 million, or 62% of the population, had bought something online in the past year.

Mark Williams of the ONS commented: “Since 2006 we have seen a significant increase in the number of people using the Internet, with the number of adults accessing the Internet every day almost doubling to just over 30 million, though the UK is some way off from being completely online.”

“Usage is closely linked with a number of socio-economic and demographic indicators with those less educated and on lower incomes less likely to access the web.”

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