While the very existence of the internet has changed people’s lives, it is arguable that it is the availability of broadband that has had the biggest impact on society.
By bringing internet connectivity into the heart of the home, 24 hours a day, broadband has transformed the way we work, play and consume. Almost nine out of ten of us now have access to superfast broadband, giving us the confidence that we can use the internet to its fullest potential.
Here are ten of the changes that have had the biggest effect on the way we live our lives.
1. We can work where we like
Reliable broadband allows us to work from home, meaning that those living in rural areas have greater access to opportunities. Government statistics show that more than four million Britons work from home – that’s 14 per cent of the total working population.
2. We have a stronger economy
The UK has the highest percentage of its GDP driven by the digital economy of any G20 nation. The digital economy is responsible for more than 1.56m jobs in the UK, and it grew 32 per cent faster than the rest of the economy between 2011 and 2014.
3. We interact better with our communities
More than 80 per cent of Brits rely on the internet for local community involvement including providing access to information on services such as playgroups, social activities and other amenities.
4. We shop where and when we want
The UK has one of the top online commerce markets in the world. In 2014, 74 per cent of adults bought goods or services online, up from 53 per cent in 2008, according to ONS statistics.
5. We access entertainment on demand
Instead of waiting for our favourite programmes to come on, we are getting used to watching what we want, when we want. Ofcom found that video-on-demand services were used by 59 per cent of adults at the end of 2015.
6. We use less paper
From bank statements to tax returns, the use of high speed broadband cuts down on how much we need to print and post. With even the NHS challenged to go paperless by 2018, the effect on the environment could be huge.
7. We keep up with our friends better
While it can be hard to find time to pick up the phone, the internet can broaden our social circle. BT figures show that half of Brits say they prefer to stay in touch with friends digitally rather than face-to-face. The stats show that 79 per cent of people admit that they have friends they would not stay in contact with at all if it weren’t for social media. 72 per cent believe social media has strengthened their friendships.
8. We control our homes wirelessly
Being connected at home saves us money, as well as making our homes potentially more secure. We can control our heating with an app, ensuring it is turned on and off at the right times, and keep tabs on burglar and fire alarms for home security.
9. We store and access documents and photos safely
UK businesses and residential customers can now access cloud storage. Information can be stored and accessed securely, such as precious photos and documents. Recent figures from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) found that 84 per cent of us use cloud storage.
10. We meet without travelling
Video conferencing has become a standard part of business practice, with reliable and fast broadband meaning we can “meet” anywhere without taking a train or plane.
This can save time, money and the environment, with studies showing that 59 per cent of UK business users believe video conferencing increases productivity (Blue Jeans Conversation Stopper report 2015).