Ofcom Outlines Importance Of Elderly Accessing Broadband

Ofcom has outlined the importance of ensuring that elderly and disabled members of society can access next-generation broadband services.

The regulator explained in a new report (PDF) that next-generation coverage could improve the delivery of healthcare, and provide better social participation and entertainment services.

"Given improved access, older and disabled people would be able to participate more in work and education, and in social and community activities, providing more options for social engagement and reducing social isolation," Ofcom said.

"Older and disabled people's physical and psychological health and wellbeing stand to benefit through access to products and services."

The report also outlined the benefits of technologies such as high-definition and 3D television, as well as more interactive digital games, to deliver content for specific audiences.

"As relatively heavy consumers of entertainment media, older and disabled people could benefit through access to more realistic and natural displays and interactions, and more personally relevant content," the report said.

Jo Connell, chairman of Ofcom's Advisory Committee on Older and Disabled People, suggested that the use of next-generation access technologies could improve the lives of elderly and disabled people in a number of ways.

"Now that we are all going to be working for longer, and there is a desire to tackle [unemployment], technology can help people often at the periphery of our society to play a more active role in the economy and in their local communities," she said.

"Text messaging has revolutionised the lives of young deaf people on the move in the past decade. Next-generation broadband has the potential to deliver the same impact in the home."

Ofcom's report also touched on the issue of encouraging those currently not online to take the time and trouble to move to the digital world.

"A high proportion of non-adopters report that they have no interest in the internet. In line with the government's digital participation activities, awakening this interest is an important consideration," the regulator said.

The government currently champions a 'silver surfers day' when it touts the benefits of getting online to elderly people, while UK digital inclusion champion Martha Lane Fox continues to promote her belief in the necessity of getting everyone online.

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