Increase boosts e-commerce however, discrepancies arise between age groups

Broadband usage on the increase

The amount of homes with access to the Internet has increased by nearly a million in the past year according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

15.2 million UK households now have a connection to the Internet according to the figures – 61 per cent of the population. Last year, only 54 per cent of homes in the UK had a connection according to the ONS.

According to the research, London and the south west of England have the highest percentage of Internet-connected homes while Northern Ireland has the lowest amount of homes connected to the net at just 52 per cent.

Broadband connections amongst those connected to the Internet also increased, with 15 per cent of those on dial-up, upgrading to faster services.

The increase in Internet access is also having a knock on effect on e-commerce with 53 per cent of users having bought something online compared to 44 per cent last year.

However, the report highlighted discrepancies within use of the Internet as a method of shopping with only 29 per cent of those over questioned saying they had used it. In contrast, 96 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 said they had.

"There was still a large difference between the number of young and older people accessing the Internet," the report from the ONS said.

The figures will make good reading for PC retailers with the increase of broadband users likely to see an increase in the purchase of routers and other Internet associated hardware, as well as the obvious potential for growth in the e-commerce space.

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