UK Govt plans to tackle regional digital divide

Wales unplugged...

The UK Government is putting its faith in its UK Online Centres in a bid to ease the growing digital divide between different regions of the UK.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that only one in four homes in Northern Ireland, the North East of England and Wales has Net access.

In contrast, almost half of homes in London and the South East has access to the Internet.

The national average for Internet access penetration is 37 per cent, according to ONS.

In total, the number crunchers reckon some 9.7 million households in the UK have Net access.

However, the growing gap in take-up is bound to be of concern to those keen to promote the adoption and use of new technology.

A Government spokeswoman told The Register: "We recognise that there are disparities and to address this the Government is developing 6,000 UK Online Centres across England providing local Net access and support."

These "centres", which offer help and advice on using email, the Web etc, range from High street Internet cafes, public libraries, colleges, community centres - in fact just about anywhere you can plug in a PC.

With such a large number of UK Online Centres it's just as well the Government's UK Online Centres Web site has a database that can be searched by region, town or postcode.

Of course, one has to question how much help this search facility is to someone who doesn't already have access to the Net and wants to find where their nearest UK Online Centre is. Ho hum. ®

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