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Digital divide is self-repairing, says UK gov

Good, let's all go down the pub then

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A UK government-sponsored study has declared that the digital divide between technology-rich citizens and e-impoverished have-nots "is only a short-term concern that will correct itself with time", eGov monitor reports.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) report - knocked out by business consultants Indepen, and examining "the challenges posed by the European Commission's recently-launched i2010 initiative" - gives the example of broadband in the US, noting that it is "growing at the same rapid rate as television ownership back in the 1940s".

Accordingly: "There are therefore empirical grounds for viewing existing divides as transitory over relatively short time scales."

That's to say, inclusion lag tends to be "self-correcting" or, in plain English, you'll all get your broadband connection in the end, so hang on in there.

The study continues: "A key question is therefore how long it will take for the market to reduce differences in terms of inclusion to near neglible levels. A related question is what impact various interventions might have on this process."

The answer to this key question is that "rapid diffusion of technology is key to eliminating existing digital divides in society", and "policymakers and regulators must ensure that any interventions promote this diffusion, rather than slow it down".

Having stated the bleedin' obvious, the study does intelligently suggest that said policymakers and regulators "should also focus on the quality of eGovernment services to promote take-up, instead of the quantity offered as is currently the case".

The DTI report has been prepared as a briefing document for the i2010 conference in London, which kicks off today. It's available right here (PDF). ®

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