Next-generation access could offer improved services and opportunities for many at a disadvantage
An Ofcom committee has published research into the benefits that next-generation broadband services can offer older and disabled people.
The regulator’s Advisory Committee for Older and Disabled People said that the technology would be able to deliver a number of vital services such as remote health monitoring and telemedicine; allowing people to live more independent lives.
It also pointed out that the technology could deliver education as well as increased social interaction and leisure activities.
The committee said: “Future services promise a world where such services may help older and disabled people to achieve greater social and economic inclusion and engagement.”
However, it warned that such benefits can’t be “taken for granted” pointing out there are “substantial risks, challenges and barriers” to effective implementation of next-generation access.
The research published by the committee, which advises Ofcom about the interests and opinions of older and disabled people living in the UK, gives examples of a range of services already being piloted or in development.
It also explores how existing services could be enriched as a result of faster broadband connections.
Jo Connell, the committee’s chairman said: “For many people next-generation broadband is already a reality. Our research shows that next-generation broadband is about much more than multi-player gaming, faster music downloads or high-definition TV.
“This report offers a glimpse into the potential services and how this new technology could help to transform many older and disabled people’s lives.”
However, the committee said areas such as service reliability, maintaining users’ privacy and confidentiality and the initial costs for access to computers and the internet for this sector of society needed to be addressed.
It also pointed out that barriers to successful take-up also included lower levels of media literacy among older and disabled people and the fact some will not be interested in taking the services.
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