Tony Blair’s vision of a wired UK economy has been dealt another blow by new findings that show the UK lagging badly behind other countries in terms of broadband Internet access.
The number of home Internet users with broadband connections is far behind much of Asia, Europe and the US, according to Web monitoring company NetValue.
The UK comes tenth out of 11 in NetValue’s rankings for broadband (through cable, satellite or ADSL), which puts it ahead of only China out of the countries surveyed.
Just one in 32 Internet-connected UK households (three per cent) uses broadband. This compares with one in 16 in France (six per cent), one in nine in the US (11 per cent) and more than half in Korea (57 per cent). Along with Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, there is a surprisingly strong uptake of broadband among Far Eastern countries.
Although embarrassingly low, the number of UK broadband users has surged in the past few months. In November, it stood at just 1.6 per cent of the online home user population. The current figure equates to 258,000 households.
In the US, specific user groups have emerged as early adopters of broadband, according to NetValue. In particular, the 14 and under age group accounted for 9.1 per cent of US broadband in February. That age group accounts for just 6.7 per cent of the dial-up access population.
Broadband connections in the UK have been delayed by BT’s reluctance to unbundle its local loop networks and make it economically viable for other Internet service providers to enter this market.