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Households with low incomes appear less likely to sign up for super-fast broadband services, Ofcom has claimed.

The media regulator recently carried out a study in six UK cities - Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, London and Manchester - to compare coverage and adoption trends for fibre services.

Ofcom found that the proportion of premises on a relatively slow broadband connection tended to be higher in areas with lower incomes.

In Belfast, for example, although nearly all parts of the city have access to super-fast broadband, around 5.9 per cent of connections in the poorest areas were below 2Mb.

Yet in the areas with the highest incomes, this figure fell to just 2.2 per cent.

"The results suggest that, in many cases, low incomes may be a barrier to customers choosing services with higher speeds," Ofcom stated.

However, part of the problem may be a lack of fibre broadband coverage - with service providers appearing to overlook some of the more economically deprived areas.

Ofcom discovered that super-fast broadband was less-widely available in parts of the six cities where average incomes are lower - potentially for commercial reasons.

For example, in the poorest areas of Manchester, super-fast broadband availability was 80.6 per cent, compared with 86 per cent across the entire city as a whole.

And in Glasgow, the difference was even more marked.

Some 57.8 per cent of premises in the most income-deprived areas had access to super-fast broadband, compared to the whole-city average of 67 per cent.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, highlighted the importance of having access to super-fast broadband for homes and businesses.

He described fibre as "an important part of modern life, and a source of economic growth and investment across the UK".

"The findings suggest that the usage and availability of faster broadband vary widely between cities," Mr Pollack stated.

"We will carry out further work in this area to help bring faster broadband to UK homes."

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