"⅔ of the population now has 5G coverage in their area
21% of UK adults only access the internet using a smartphone"
Digital Inclusion > Recommendations
As digital inclusion becomes ever more necessary in today’s society there is more that can be done to turn the digitally excluded into the digitally included. The following recommendations will help to ensure that mobile connectivity can continue to contribute to the narrowing of the digital divide and can help to narrow it further still:
- UK Government to update national digital inclusion strategy digital inclusion strategy.
An updated digital inclusion strategy could include explicit targets. It could also include minimum expectations of what Whitehall departments need to consider in respect of digital exclusion and public services, as well as incorporating the subsequent recommendations.
- Enable investment to keep mobile connectivity competitively priced.
In 2021, MNOs invested £2bn in capital investment to improve their networks. The current investment environment is extremely challenging. Over the last decade mobile operators have faced flat or declining average revenues per user (ARPU), increased regulation, and a huge increase in demand for data as more and more people rely on mobile connectivity. This has created an investment gap, meaning that the Government needs to implement a framework to narrow that gap and incentivise investment.
- Promote the use of accessible and mobile-friendly websites.
With 71% of smartphone users saying that it is more difficult to complete a form on a phone than a laptop, there is scope to make websites more accessible to mobile phone users, as well as those people less familiar with the internet. This can be done both by setting standards for public bodies and by setting standards for the private sector.
- Use public services to promote digital inclusion.
Public services both have significant contact points with the vast majority of digitally excluded people, and a motivation to get them online so they can better access that public service. For example, Local Authorities could act as a “front door” to digital services.
- UK Government centrally funded Digital Champions across all local authorities.
These are senior roles within local authorities which must be underpinned with political support created to coordinate digital policy and work with industry to smooth the way for the deployment of digital infrastructure.