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Digital divide in U.K. – Homes with kids more connected

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There are strong regional and class differences in Internet access rates in Britain, the BBC reported July 10.

One in four homes in the U.K. are now connected to the Internet, according to data released from the Office for National Statistics. In most regions, Internet use has doubled in the last year.

London and Southeast England are far more connected than the rest of the U.K., however. One in four London households are connected, as opposed to 11 percent of households in Northern Ireland and 14 percent of those in Scotland.

The access rate was only 6 percent or lower in the four lowest income groups, while 48 percent of homes in the highest income group had Internet access.

Homes with children were more likely to be connected, according to the statistics office.

The British government has implemented a number of initiatives to close the digital divide. The government plans to open a network of up to 700 information technology access centers by the next year.

Tax breaks will be introduced for companies willing to loan computers to employees, and there will be 85 percent discounts on basic IT courses for new web users.

The government also hopes to make 100,000 refurbished computers available to low-income households for lease or purchase.

All British schools and libraries should be online by 2002.

The figures released by the Office for National Statistics are the first in a series of quarterly updates tracking Internet access across the country.

The survey was based on 7,000 households in the U.K.

For full story, go to the BBC.

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