Northern Ireland news

NI had largest digital divide in UK during Covid-19 pandemic, according to research

A study found there were more than 174,000 adults were either lapsed or internet non-users last year in NI

NORTHERN Ireland had the "largest digital divide in the UK" during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research.

A study has found there were more than 174,000 adults were either lapsed or internet non-users last year in the north, with Mid Ulster the worst-affected area.

Despite the coronavirus crisis prompting more communication and vital services to move online, research by Rouge Media found 11.8 percent of adults over the age of 16 in Northern Ireland lived offline in the first three months of 2020.

The study found Northern Ireland’s digital divide remains the highest in the UK when population size is considered, which means many people were left unable to access important online services or benefit from communication apps during the first lockdown last year.

The digital divide in Northern Ireland is greatest in Mid Ulster, with 17.8 percent of local residents (21,000 adults) either lapsed or internet non-users during 2020.

It said slow internet speeds could be partially to blame - internet speeds in Mid Ulster are 51.58 percent worse than the UK average of 32.98 Mbps.

The North East of England was the second worst region for the most people living offline, followed by Wales.

Greater London has the smallest number living offline at just 4.9 per cent.

Andy Woods from Rouge Media said: "It’s been really interesting to study the UK’s digital divide and the progress being made in reducing the number of residents living offline, especially at a time when internet access has never been so important.

"It’s clear that while positive progress has been made, an enduring digital divide remains nationwide which appears to be impacting older residents and poorer households unequally."


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