Government vows to get 7.5 million more people online by 2014


The Government has pledged to get another 7.5 million people online by 2014.

There are currently some 12.5 million people around the country who don't have internet access, but under the newly announced National Digital Participation Plan the Government plans to reduce that amount by 60 per cent in the next four years.

Elderly people and low-income families will be the primary targets of the scheme, which will be supported by 60 public and private organisations, including Google, the BBC and Sky.

The plan was unveiled yesterday by Stephen Timms, minister for Digital Britain.

"Being online is crucial for participation in the 21st Century society," Timms said in a statement. "The internet unlocks a wealth of information and services, giving people more choice in life and access to a range of education, health and financial opportunities.

"Bringing people online for the first time and enabling people to interact more creatively will enrich our society and we will ensure no one is left behind."

Timms did concede, however, that overcoming the obstacles that have prevented people from accessing the internet until now was a stiff challenge: "It will mean maintaining the rate of first time internet connections at the level we have seen over the past few years, even though those not yet connected are likely to be much harder to attract," he said.

Other details laid out in the Participation Plan include the provision of free laptops and internet to 270,000 low-income families in the UK and the development of more UK Online Centres. Some 12 million of funding has been allocated for combined marketing initiatives to promote the scheme.

The measures are part of the Universal Service Commitment set out in the Digital Britain report, which aims to deliver at least 2Mbps broadband to every home and business in the UK by 2012.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, have pledged to provide 100Mbps broadband to the majority of UK homes by 2017 if they win the next election.