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The proportion of UK homes with an internet connection has continued to increase over the last 12 months, it has been reported.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 19 million homes – the equivalent of 77 per cent of the UK – now have regular access to the web.

This is up from 73 per cent in the 2010 survey sample, suggesting that more households have signed up for broadband deals over the last 12 months.

The ONS reported that 41.26 million adults – 82.3 per cent of the population – used the internet over the last year.

However, this means that 8.73 million people are still not taking advantage of online services – 17.7 per cent of UK adults.

Some 84.6 per cent of men were found to have used the web, compared with 80.1 per cent of women, suggesting that broadband providers may need to reach out to female consumers more effectively.

Among internet users, 38 per cent said that had used a laptop, tablet or other portable computer to access the internet – potentially using a dongle to take advantage of mobile broadband.

And 4.9 million people – 13 per cent of internet users – said they had used a wireless broadband hotspot during the last year, indicating that uptake of such services is increasing.

The government is attempting to increase broadband coverage across the UK via its £530 million broadband fund.

Under current plans, every UK community should be equipped with a minimum of 2Mb broadband by 2012, enabling countryside dwellers to take advantage of online services.

But part of the battle for the government is changing attitudes among some people towards broadband connections and internet use in general.

With almost one-fifth of the population still failing to embrace the web in any shape or form, the Con-Lib coalition needs to consider whether its digital participation initiatives are having the desired results.

A four percentage point increase in the number of connections represents progress, but a significant number of UK households continue to be held back by a reluctance, or inability, to access the internet.

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