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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 09:01 GMT
Families crucial to broadband's future
Hand on mouse
Users looking to be entertained online
Broadband must be targeted at the whole family with the emphasis on entertainment, according to the French telecoms giant Alcatel.

A survey commissioned by the firm revealed that only a small proportion of the UK population are using dial-up internet connections at home on a regular basis.

Only 8% of those questioned had logged on to the net from home in the last three months.

"According to our survey of the general public there is limited interest in the narrowband internet from an entertainment point of view," said Alcatel's Dave Hills.

But experts have questioned the survey, as official figures show that more than 20% of homes online use the net on a regular basis.

More entertaining

Instead surfers are performing everyday net tasks at work and are turning to other entertainment devices such as the TV and games consoles when they get home.


Providers neglect the role that women play in family decision-making, as well as the pester power of children

Dave Hills, Alcatel
"A lot of people use the internet at work for everyday things such as e-mail and when they come home they want to be entertained," said Mr Hills.

With the advent of high-speed internet services, the potential to make the PC more entertaining is huge but providers must take some basic advice, warned Alcatel.

As well as making more effort to provide bundled entertainment services, they must also target the right people in the household said Mr Hills.

"Service providers have tended to target entertainment services at men in the 30 to 50 age group because they are perceived to have the most disposable income," he said.

"This neglects the role that women play in family decision-making, as well as the pester power of children," he added.

Lessons from Korea

This would tie in with a recent government fact-finding mission to South Korea, where over 60% of the population have a broadband connection at home.


I have no idea where Alcatel has got its figures from. It is just ridiculous

Spokesman, Office of the e-Envoy
It found that broadband there is aimed at mothers and children, with an emphasis on the educational value of high-speed net access.

Entertainment is also a huge factor in enticing Koreans online and watching TV on the PC is hugely popular.

According to telecoms watchdog Oftel there is great pent-up demand for broadband in the UK with three million dial-up users looking to transfer to high-speed internet services.

Nonsense

While the Alcatel survey suggests a growing apathy to the net from individuals, the general picture is healthier according to the UK Government.

The Office of National Statistics has found that 43% of UK homes have net connectivity and nearly half of these use the net on a regular basis.

"I have no idea where Alcatel has got its figures from. It is just ridiculous," said a spokesman for the Office of the e-Envoy, the department charged with getting Britain online.

One of the UK's leading ISPs AOL is also sceptical about Alcatel's findings.

Its own figures show the average user is online for an hour a day.

"I can only think that the responses have fallen heavily on those that don't use the internet at all," said a spokesman.


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