Broadband speed test under way

Better bandwidth alone isn’t enough

Chris Batson/Alamy Stock Photo

A fast internet connection for all: it’s the law. Or will be soon, if the UK government’s pledge to give every household the legal right to a fast broadband connection becomes a reality.

The backdrop is a nation that has yet to fully understand the social and economic potential of the web. And worryingly, it has somehow lost sight of the internet’s original promise – to empower individuals and increase engagement at a universal level.

Will this proposed right really affect our ability to afford an internet connection or the equipment to use it, and the digital skills to make the most of it? In other words, will it create a society where everyone can benefit from the internet? The devil may be in the detail of the forthcoming Digital Economy Bill.

With nearly 12 million UK adults lacking basic digital skills, this is a crucial question. We are living in a divided society.

It’s simply not right that a huge chunk of the population — often those who could most benefit from the internet — are being left behind. Beyond keeping in touch with family and friends, and easing access to online government services, basic digital skills can improve people’s quality of life.

Financial stress

Research tells us that on average, people can save £744 a year by taking advantage of online resources and services. With financial stress ranked as a primary cause of mental health issues in the UK, 86 per cent of people who manage their money online say they “worry less” if they have more choice in …

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