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Digital inclusion: essential services: accessible to all?

The digitisation of everyday life is not a new trend and has been going on for years. Since the launch of the European Digital Strategy in 2010, „Digital by default“ has become the starting point for essential public and private services. The COVID-19 health crisis has clearly accelerated and reinforced this trend over the past year and a half. Based on data from official statistics for the year 2020, this report evaluates the initial impact of the health crisis on the digital divide. The report focuses on two current aspects of socio-digital inequality: inequality in the quality and context of internet access and inequality in the use of essential digital services. The report is the result of statistical analyses carried out by researchers at the IACCHOS Institute of UCLouvain based on the main data source available in Belgium on the use of digital technologies. The report consists of three chapters focusing on different aspects of socio-digital inequality in Belgium and its regions. The first chapter examines the forms of inequality in access to digital technologies, the second analyses the accessibility of essential online services and the third discusses the benefits of internet use.