Digital Deprivation in the UK in 2015

Broadband non-adoption in England

An update to Point Topic's Digital Deprivation Index

Download the data at LA level here

Broadband Digital Deprivation Index – England Jan 2016 LA


The UK in June 2015 had 24.3 million fixed line broadband subscribers, an 81.9% premises penetration, in residential and business sites. In terms of take-up 37.9% of the lines were ‘superfast’, capable of over 30Mbps downstream.

Coverage of some level of broadband service is complete for the UK when including all access options.

There remains a persistent and in some respects deepening digital divide across the UK.

The latest edition of the Index of Multiple Deprivation for England was published late last year.  This update, nominally to 2015, contains a number of datasets that we (Point Topic) use to model the non-adoption of broadband.

Using the updated IMD and broadband take-up and availability data from our own research to June 2015 we have updated our Digital Deprivation Index (DDI) for England originally published in 2013.

The outputs can be used to understand the root causes of the broadband digital divide.  Its relative depth, impact and the locations of particular issues.

We have used the same components as our first version to allow a level of comparison although the IMD explicitly warns that outputs of direct time comparison and/or attempts to compare within the datasets even with the same field titles should be treated with care.  There have been updates to the way most of these ratings are produced and direct (precisely quantifiable) comparison is not possible for most of the inputs.

There is plenty of analysis available to be conducted for many areas.  We’re making our base data available at LA level if others wish to examine it and apply it for their own analysis.  We’d be very pleased to hear any feedback and see any results of course.

Broadband deprivation in the UK – the LA story

Local Authorities will be increasingly on the frontline when it comes to broadband and online services in their populations.  The USO will doubtless add to the LA’s burden in administrative and expenditure terms.

Proper planning will help minimise the impact and allow us to focus on the benefits and relative uplift that comes with broadband adoption.

Most (on average) at risk LAs

most at risk las

Income in particular continues to be the primary predictor of overall adoption and hence cost imposes a relatively low ceiling on addressable audience for the premium products (high bandwidth, lots of add ons) compared to our previous models.

This pattern is seen in the USA at the moment as well will the Pew Internet Survey revealing a drop in fixed line household penetration and laying the blame squarely at the door of cost and poor rural supply.  There is some analysis of US and global adoption here.

Forcing poorer populations onto relatively expensive, data limited broadband services will only entrench and extend existing divides.

Point Topic DDI – England by LA 2015.

DDI2015 England

This does suggest that for the most part areas where problems were evident have moved ahead in terms of relative risk of broadband non-adoption.  Cornwall and some of the South West coast does appear to have improved overall as do large chunks of the North West.

Rank delta – London

DDI delta london

The darker areas are relatively worse, in terms of non-adoption of broadband, comparing 2015 and 2013 Point Topic DDIs.  We can see Camden and much of South West London improving significantly relative to other authorities.

Broadband non-adoption is common to urban and rural environments.  There are many reasons but income, education and disability are the elements that have the most impact.  Now we can figure out what impact they have and where we can start the next stage of broadband delivery for the UK and perhaps even extend our lead over our European partners.

Download the data at LA level here

Broadband Digital Deprivation Index – England Jan 2016 LA


Get access to the full report

More information on the activities of  Virgin Media can be found in Point Topic’s UK Plus service, the full report has been published on the subscriber site. For further information please contact

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