There is a Universal Service Obligation, just like in the days of voice telephony, which says the incumbent (British Telecom in most of the country) is legally obliged to offer anybody who wants it at least a minimum service (10Mbps down 1Mbps up asymmetric, so mediocre DSL basically) for a fee. In unusual cases (imagine you live on an otherwise uninhabited island for some reason or up a mountain) you may need to contribute to capital costs for installation.
About 2% of the country are estimated to /live/ in places that can't get USO obligatory service (without new construction) if they asked. Unsurprisingly people who want fast Internet don't tend to buy properties with problems like that, but in principle if you were stubborn you could buy one and demand they fix it to 10Mbps up 1Mbps down.
So, whatever it is the problem is not Connectivity.
Ha ha, that's hilarious. Out here in the real world although the maps show that I'm getting 4G mobile and "superfast" broadband, the reality is no mobile at all and 20 Mbps when it's not raining and the BT culverts aren't waterlogged. When they are waterlogged, not much internet at all.
 Where "superfast" means laughably slow compared to most other first world countries.
> In unusual cases (imagine you live on an otherwise uninhabited island for some reason or up a mountain) you may need to contribute to capital costs for installation.
I agree with you, but this bit doesn't really describe how many people need to pay for broadband infrastructure installation.
Just a couple of days ago I heard on BBC Radio Devon that some broadband provider in that area got its license revoked because it didn't meet its commitments.
It's like how the American cell phone companies claim to provide LTE access to 95% of Americans, yet somehow there are still several tens of millions of people on slow 4G, 3G, or with zero cell service at all.
One of my friends works in IT, he's like third line support for some big international outfit. He's a Windows guy but still, you'd expect he knows what he's doing. One day he complained about how shitty his broadband is. So I asked why he doesn't have FTTC. "It's not available". OK, so I punch in his landline phone number and the system says of course yeah like almost everybody else in my entire city he can have FTTC.
Yes, it costs more money and that might make it unattractive to some people, but it's right there, I'd guess it took maybe 5-10 days from that conversation until he had FTTC instead of ADSL.
Weird flex but ok.
Which unfortunately in the UK is an issue. I have no mobile phone reception at home (20 miles as the crow flies from Charing Cross station in London), so if my only access to the internet was through a phone then I might be one of these people.
Personally I believe you get older and desire a certain emotional / stimulation product that software does quite a bad job at delivering.
Like Facebook helps validate your opinions but not by design, other old people just post stuff that their old friends will see. Email helps you feel busy but it’s not the same sense as being The Chairman of Your Company. Photos let you see your family but it’s not the same as lording over everyone in your big house on a holiday.
I’m not trying to cast these feelings of power as something negative, just trying to characterize something that Snapchat and Instagram are very good at delivering for young people (power by sexualization) that does not at all appeal to old people.
Startups generally don’t serve old people not because of lack of access, that’s more about whether the company can have a VC growth trajectory. If that’s the limit of your point, well just advertise on the radio, CNN and church instead of Facebook ads. But the more important point is how to make something for this population they actually want.
While I'm just spouting opinions here, let me add that I think startups don't look at the needs of older people because they don't know about their lives well enough to think about problems that need solving.
We gain a substantial part of our intelligence through experience. A 17-year-old is more intelligent than a seven-year-old in large part because of his experience.
It seems only logical that someone who has lived twice as long as I have and has had twice as many experiences and twice as long to learn should be smarter than I am.
I expect higher quality, fact based commentary from hn.
This whole thread read like something off a trash subreddit.
Should they? This reads to me like "how should car washes react to people who don't have a car?"
I think accessibility should definitely be more of a focus in tech companies, as the current trend is fairly poor.
Factor in that a lot of these web-based services are poorly designed and badly constructed and it is no wonder that some people get frustrated or are easily swindled.
Local council sites tend to be the worst, in my experience, with unfathomable navigation and broken forms being the most common problems.
My dad often asks 'why can't I do x?' and my usual answer is that the website is sh1t, there is nothing you can do about it.
It's a huge project and driven by user research and testing. Best part, almost all of it happens in the open
The technology and design should eventually filter down to localised services.
From what I have seen they are left to do their own thing a little too much.
A dev can get a Node or Rails app with all the correct assets and templates running in two minutes. C# and Django in a bit longer.
Most of the things they'll need to build are already there, well-engineered and tested.
Some councils have longstanding contracts with local companies or just have their heads in the sand. Not much more we can do.
Some work on this has actually been started
Edit: just read the assessor's comments, pretty damning. Doesn't sound like the project delivered much - pretty sure I could do more in an afternoon
Well, that's the thing isn't it? Personally, I think I'd be happy, and probably better off, with an internet that consisted of email, USENET, and Amazon. (maybe eBay, although I could do without it). Unfortunately, the rest of the world and it's needs and addictions tends to drag you along.
That may be representative of the wider society, but amongst my acquaintances it is not.
The methodology is outlined here:
Really, though, I wish people who question survey methodology would mention specific problems with the methodology.
One problem I see is that part of the weighting is based on "ACORN" categories, which aren't well-defined and remind me of junk sold by marketing companies. Of course, I assume the data's based on actual demographics, so it might be good for weighting even if it's bad at explaining.
>At each address respondents for interview were selected by asking the person who answered the door if it would be possible to interview the person normally resident at that household ages 14 or over with the next birthday.
If birthdays weren't known by the door-answerer, then the interviewer picked a subject by first letter of the first name. But that only happened in 5% of cases.
I've read that section a few times now and I can't see even a hint of that implication. Is it because addresses are chosen randomly from the Postal Address File?
If so then even worse. They'd only be working with people that take snail mail seriously.
If you have tax problems, the I.R.S. will not e-mail you. It will not call you. It will not text you. It will not contact you on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Slack, WhatsApp, or any other digital method.
It will contact you via snail mail.
Serious people take snail mail seriously.
While it's common for people on HN to eschew the results of surveys because of presumed sample bias, that's rarely what happens.
I took a couple of statistics classes in college that spelled out the math involved, and essentially if you survey enough people within a population of a certain size, unintentional bias gets reduced to the point where it becomes a non-factor.
It's all very interesting if you're into math. I am not, but statistics courses were required for my journalism degree.
("Unintentional" meaning there is such a thing as "intentional" bias. For example, if you're deliberately surveying Toyota owners about Toyotas, or something like that.)
In this particular case, everything you've said is true only if you assume a reasonably random sample. If your sampling method itself introduces biases, no increase in sample size is going to eliminate those biases.
I'm not enough of a statistician to feel particularly confident in passing judgment over the sampling method here, but I think it's fair to question it, despite the fact that I'm ordinarily far more likely to take the statistics at face value than the average internet commenter.
When the United States had about 300,000,000 people the number for statistical veracity was around 975.
Again, my statistics classes were a long time ago, so the numbers I remember are inexact. But once I groked the math, it was surprising how few people you needed to interview.
Quite interesting to see that the majority of people who don't want to join the internet is because of choice and worry that they will lose their privacy.
Anyone done a study of how people who don't use the internet usually vote in elections and generally feel socially about the rest of the world?
The privacy worries are weird. In my experience this is the same group that love to use loyalty/reward cards, coupons etc. To me, those are far more intrusive to my privacy than a properly set up internet connection.
You should watch Sky News sometimes talk about the latest security problem, they do not take a balanced approach to the reporting.
It doesn't state explicitly, but it does not appear that text messaging, or anything you could do with a feature phone was counted. The term used in the study was "online," not "using the internet."
The study looked at things like "buy products," "pay bills," "listen to music," "watch movies," "follow celebrities," "post videos," and "buy groceries."
I'd agree, my grandmother never uses the _internet_, my grandfather used to use just email (probably once a week), but never used the _web_.
For people older than 60 years the internet is still so new that many still might think it is a "fad". It will be very, very hard to teach new tricks to old dogs. As the article says:
> "There are a lot of things about the internet that get less useful as you get older," he said.
OTOH, for people younger than 20, the proportion of not connected will most certainly be very low. As the article says:
> "Virtually everyone is online before age 50," Dr Blank told the BBC
I suspect that the effort to get the last and very reluctant old people online is just not worth it.
> Non-users, said Dr Blank, were those who did not go online via any means - either phone or computer. The proportion of those falling into this category grew as people aged, he said.
The main welfare benefit in the UK at the moment is Universal Credit which is an online-only benefit. You apply for it online. All communication is done online.
If non-users are not able to even use computers then they can't access the benefits they are entitled to.
A lot of people have been made redundant from Job Centre Plus (the public facing offices of the Department for Work and Pensions) and so the help just isn't available from DWP. It seems a lot of that help work has been off-loaded onto libraries which would be fine if they'd been given a funding bump to cope with it, but they haven't.
As a Librarian I spend most of my time helping people with universal credit: https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/universal-credit-claimants-libra...
Haranguing people as per the article about "The wide range of good health information might prove useful for many" sounds like haranguing people to subscribe to cable TV because CSPAN will make them a better citizen; thats beautiful social status signalling, but lets be realistic, for the masses the internet is for pr0n and fad site of the month. Much like people who don't have a TV are not missing valuable educational programming, they're mostly missing sitcoms and pro sports. A little less time wasting and brain rotting will never hurt anyone.
It'll be inconvenient for paying bills or customer service or whatever, but by design that has always been inconvenient so whats the difference?
I think the threshold is higher now, I'd say 70 years+.
60 year olds were 40 when the Internet started to become a thing and were in their late 20s when personal computing took off in the 80s. Those are quite receptive ages still.
> Earlier versions of the survey found the 50-plus drop-off in net use had persisted for a long time, said Dr Blank, suggesting it was not tied to a particular age group that grew up without the net.
Given that the different survey results didn't really agreec on the basics, I'm not sure the correlation means much. But if that is true it would definitely make it more worth it.
She was able to use a Mac and browse the web a decade ago. Then she began to forget how to do things she'd been proficient at a few years earlier. In the past four years her ability to use the computer dropped to zero, and attempting to get her onto an iPad instead failed (it was too complicated/required too much learning -- I'd left it too late, not recognizing the early signs of decline).
At the time of death she had medium to advanced vascular dementia; the point is, cognitive decline in old age is a real thing, and people lose the ability to do stuff they knew how to do at an earlier age.
I'm really curious what the methodology is here. "detailed in-home" suggests it did something more than just ask people, but then it says they "described themselves" as non-users. If you asked my mum she'd say she doesn't use the internet, but if you sat down in her house with her you'd see she uses Facebook and WhatsApp on her phone to communicate with friends and family, and occasionally accidentally clicks a link that opens a browser. But she'll never open a browser, doesn't actively use her email and would consider herself not to use the internet.
My second thought is this is about the same number of British people who are below the official poverty line, and of course food is a higher priority than internet.
(It’s still shocking that the number is so high).
At that time I read that in the early 1990s only about 5% of the entire world were using the Internet home user would be using it via dial-up. But the shocking part was how many people in the world at that time did not even have a telephone. I can't recall the percentage but it was quite high.
Non-clickbait version: "over 80% of Britons use internet"
How is that not clear? 80% internet usage is pretty good, not bad as the headline and article suggest.
I understand I'm just a dumb American, but is the OII something anyone knows anything about?
ox.ac.uk is Oxford university.
OII is a project stemming from this university. Something like this is akin to MITs IPRI
The internal organisation of Oxford is definitely weird (I did my doctorate at the OII and most of the university didn't know we existed or thought we were part of computer science) but it's not that obscure.
Id be more concerned about the self selecting nature. There must be quite a limited demographic willing to sign on to Yougov say, and complete surveys for a very small financial reward.
shows that two polls this week, each of ~2000 people, found the Conservatives to have either a 1% or a 12% lead over Labour.
Election polling relies heavily on turnout modeling: it's not enough to know what people's opinions are to predict elections, but also which of those people are likely to vote. And the different polling companies have very different models for that, and other 'artistic' parts of the modeling which aren't strictly related to their polling sample. It certainly doesn't imply problems for survey research as a whole (though, as I said, there are increasingly long-term challenges to the while edifice).
Direct link to report:
very interesting numbers nonetheless.