UK broadband take-up on the rise

Digital divide between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is narrowing as more homes connect to broadband, says Ofcom

The digital divide between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is narrowing as more homes connect to broadband.

Broadband take-up in homes in England reached 45 percent by the end of 2006, while 42 percent of homes in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales had broadband, according to research from Ofcom.

The watchdog found more UK homes connected to broadband last year than in 2005, with the divide between the nation's fat pipe take-up narrowing from a 12 percentage point range in 2005 to a three percentage point range last year.

By contrast, at the end of 2005, 24 percent of homes in Northern Ireland had broadband, 25 percent in Wales and 31 percent in Scotland, with England grabbing pole position with 36 percent.

Two-thirds of the UK's households were able to get broadband and phone services through local loop unbundling (LLU) by the end of 2006, compared with only two-fifths of homes able to connect by LLU at the end of 2005.

Less than three-tenths of UK households (29 percent) opted to bundle services from a single telecoms provider in 2006, according to Ofcom's 2006 report: Communications Market Report for the Nations and Regions of the UK.

Each country had its own favourite technology in 2006. Taking a bundle of services was most popular in Northern Ireland (32 percent), there were more Wi-Fi hotspots per million people in Wales (193), a higher proportion of internet users in Scotland using VoIP (19 percent), and ownership of DAB digital radio was highest in England (19 percent of homes).