Skip to main content

Broadband: Elderly

Volume 479: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will hold discussions with industry representatives on measures to increase the affordability of access to broadband for (a) people with a disability and (b) older people. (184358)

Ofcom’s report “The UK Communications Market 2007” shows that developments in technology have seen broadband reaching the majority of households and businesses in the UK and this has been reflected in widespread take-up (there are now over 16 million broadband connections in the UK). The UK has one of the fastest growing broadband markets in Europe and continues to have the most extensive availability, with 99.8 per cent. of households able to access broadband.

Statistics show that 53 per cent. of all UK adults lived in households with a broadband internet connection in Q4 2006—up from 39 per cent. in 2005 and seven times the 2002 penetration level.

The rising take-up of bundled services has contributed to the falling costs of all telecommunication services. The UK’s 16 million broadband households are paying 36 per cent. less than they were four years ago, while headline connection speeds are up to 16 times faster—although actual speeds are often far slower than advertised. Competition has seen service providers differentiating in terms of price, speed, quality and in terms of product bundles.

52 per cent. of people in the UK with broadband purchased it in conjunction with another communications service, often receiving heavy discounts on the price of stand alone broadband. Some suppliers now offer standalone broadband for under £10 per month, while others provide free broadband when customers buy additional communication service, the cost of the broadband being subsidised by other services in the bundle. Prices for broadband will continue to fall as competition for subscribers intensifies.

I would be delighted to hear from industry about any plans they have to make broadband more affordable, including for the elderly or disabled.