London, England – Although 17 million UK residents, 30 percent of the population, don’t currently have internet access at home, 43 percent of them say they would remain offline even if they were given a free PC and broadband connection.
But the survey by telecom regulator Ofcom did find that one in five offline adults plan to start surfing in the next six months.
The web Luddites are mainly old or retired, say they have no interest in or need for the internet and sixty percent of them say they have never used a computer. 30 percent said they thought the web was too expensive or they lacked the skills to use a PC.
When asked what would change their minds about going online, 9 percent said cheaper deals, 11 percent wanted free training, but a depressing 58 percent said they simply weren’t interested.
Ofcom quizzed 2,000 people and found that 73 percent described broadband as an essential utility like water or electricity. The organisation reckons that 70 percent of the UK has web access, but that two percent were still using dialup access. The UK government has pledged to enable every home in the UK to use broadband at a minimum speed of 2Mbps by 2012.
The BBC, showing its customary expertise in technology reporting, is asking visitors to its site to fill in an online form if they don’t have web access. Clever.