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GSS > Policy and guidance hub > Internet access harmonised principle (interim)

Internet access harmonised principle (interim)

This principle has been published in an interim format due to the increased interest in internet access in the home resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We want to understand how well the questions meet the needs of government departments and other researchers. By sharing these questions now and monitoring their usage and feedback, we will understand more about how they perform. We are interested in feedback from people who use or produce statistics based on this topic so that we can develop it. Please get in touch: gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk.

Policy details

Metadata item Details
Publication date:9 June 2020
Author:Catherine Bean
Approver:Catherine Davies
Who this is for:Producers of statistics
Type:Harmonisation guidance and principles
Contact:

gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk

What is harmonisation?

Harmonisation is the process of making statistics and data more comparable, consistent and coherent. Harmonised principles set out how to collect and report statistics to ensure comparability across different data collections in the Government Statistical Service (GSS). Harmonisation produces more useful statistics that give users a greater level of understanding.

 

What do we mean by internet access?

Access to the internet is the ability to connect to internet services through any internet enabled device, such as a laptop, tablet, smartphone or smart TV and via any type of internet connection – such as broadband or mobile network.

 

Questions and response options (inputs)

The harmonised questions on this topic are designed to collect basic information, for use in the majority of surveys. They are not designed to replace questions used in specialist surveys where more detailed analysis is required.

VariableQuestionResponse options
Household internet accessDoes your household have access to the internet at home?A) Yes

B) No                       

C) Don’t know (spontaneous)
Household connectionAsk if question 1=A (yes) or C (don’t know)

How does your household connect to the internet at home? Is it through…
A) Broadband or Wi-Fi?

B) A mobile network, such as 3G, 4G or 5G?

C) Another way? Please specify

D) Don’t know (spontaneous)
Individual useDo you personally use the internet?A) Yes

B) No

C) Don’t know (spontaneous)
LocationAsk if question 3=A (yes)

Where do you use the internet?
A) At home

B) At work

C) At school, college or university

D) On the move

E) Somewhere else
FrequencyHow often do you use the internet?A) Almost all the time

B) Many times a day

C) About once a day

D) Several times a week

E) Less often
DevicesDo you use the internet on a…A) Smartphone?

B) Laptop?

C) Tablet?

D) Desktop?

E) Games console?

F) Smart TV?

G) Another device?
ActivitiesIn the last four weeks have you used the internet for…A) Email or instant messaging?

B) Social networking?

C) Entertainment?

D) Online shopping?

E) News or weather?

F) Online banking?

G) Travel or navigation?

H) Government information or services?

I) Finding other information?

J) Something else?

Using this principle

Guidance for data collection

Households

A household is one person living alone; or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room or sitting room or dining area.

Reading the questions

If these questions are used in interviewer-led modes, questions one, three and five are to be read with a running prompt. This is where the interviewer should ask all the response options, and then the respondent gives a response (choosing one of the available options).

Conversely, questions two, four, six and seven are to be read as individual prompt. This is where interviewers should ask the respondent each individual response option in turn, and they respond to each option separately. In this survey, for all individual prompt questions, respondents can choose multiple options.

A response of ‘don’t know’ is a spontaneous response. This means that should not be given as an option when these questions are given in person or over the telephone. It may be listed when these questions are written (for example for online surveys).

‘Other’ responses

Some questions have response options which are designed to capture ‘other’ responses which are not already listed. For these questions, you may wish to include an open response option at your own discretion. We do not recommend doing this for surveys with a large sample size as our cognitive testing implied the variety and quantity of responses to ‘other’ will make the data laborious to process.

Types of data collection this principle is suitable for

The testing of this principle was interviewer-led face-to-face, leading to confidence that it is appropriate for interviewer-led modes. For interviewer-led modes this principle includes interviewer guidance, for example what is classed as a household. During testing of these questions, respondents answered appropriately without the need for additional guidance, indicating that these questions are suitable for self-completion.

Given the subject matter (access to the internet), the use of these questions in an internet-based self-administered survey may lead to a biased sample and therefore non-comparable data.

 

Presenting and reporting the data (outputs)

Variable Output
Household internet accessSum of “Yes” responses outputs number of households with internet access.

Sum of “No” responses outputs number of households without internet access.

Output “Don’t know” responses in a separate category.
Household connectionSum of responses of option A outputs number of users of fixed broadband.

Sum of responses of option B outputs number of users of mobile internet.  

Response options for C are coded depending on individual responses.

Output “Don’t know” responses in a separate category.
Individual useSum of “Yes” responses outputs number of internet users.

Sum of “No” responses outputs number of people who do not use the internet.

Output “Don’t know” responses in a separate category.
LocationSum of responses of option A outputs individual level use of internet at home.

Sum of responses of option B outputs individual level use of internet at work.

Sum of responses of option C outputs individual level use of internet at school, college or university.

Sum of responses of option D outputs individual level use of internet on the move.

Sum of responses of option E outputs individual level use of internet somewhere else.
FrequencySum of responses of option A outputs number of respondents who use the internet almost all the time.

Sum of responses of option B outputs number of respondents who use the internet many times a day.

Sum of responses of option C outputs number of respondents who use the internet about once a day.

Sum of responses of option D outputs number of respondents who use the internet several times a week.

Sum of responses of option E outputs number of respondents who use the internet less often than several times a week.
DevicesSum of responses of option A outputs number of respondents who use the internet on a smartphone.

Sum of responses of option B outputs number of respondents who use the internet on a laptop.

Sum of responses of option C outputs number of respondents who use the internet on a tablet.

Sum of responses of option D outputs number of respondents who use the internet on a desktop computer.

Sum of responses of option E outputs number of respondents who use the internet on a games console.

Sum of responses of option F outputs the number of respondents who use the internet on a smart TV.

Sum of responses of option G outputs the number of respondents who use the internet on any other device.
ActivitiesSum of responses of option A outputs individual level use of email or instant messaging.

Sum of responses of option B outputs individual level use of social networking.

Sum of responses of option C outputs individual level use of entertainment using the internet.

Sum of responses of option D outputs individual level use of online shopping.

Sum of responses of option E outputs individual level use of news or weather services.

Sum of responses of option F outputs individual level use of travel or navigation services.

Sum of responses of option H outputs individual level use of government information or services.

Sum of response of option I outputs individual levels of finding other information.

Sum of responses of option J outputs individual levels of any other activity.

 

Comparability

Outputs that come from using this harmonised principle are comparable with other surveys that also use this principle. We would not recommend comparing measures of internet access from this output with those that do not use this harmonised principle.

 

Development of this principle

In 2017, the National Statistics Harmonisation Group (NSHG) assessed the existing internet access harmonised principle and deemed it to be out of date. Following this, a programme of work was initiated to re-design the internet access questions. This involved a wide range of stakeholder consultation from across the public and private sectors, and cognitive testing of questions by government researchers.

It has been published in an interim format due to the increased interest in internet access in the home resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

 

Contact

We are always interested in hearing from users so we can develop our work. If you use or produce statistics based on this topic, get in touch: gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk.

 

Review frequency:

This is an interim harmonised principle. It will be reviewed regularly.

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