ONE in four of WA’s poorest households has no access to the internet, potentially cutting them off from vital digital services, a study reveals.

The report Falling Through the Net: the digital divide in WA, released today by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, highlights the difficulties for disadvantaged groups trying to keep pace with advances in communication technology.

The report found only 74 per cent of low-income earners in WA were connected to the internet, compared with 99 per cent of high earners.

Lead author Alan Duncan said internet access had increased in the past 10 years, with 90 per cent of households connected in 2016, up from 71 per cent in 2006.

“However, as more essential services including health care, banking and government services move online, those that are not connected face greater risk of falling on the wrong side of the digital divide,” he said.

Calling for a Statewide digital strategy across all levels of government, Professor Duncan said many people, especially the elderly and single parents, faced challenges accessing digital services.

“Only 61 per cent of older-age Australians currently access the internet, which may mean reduced access to government services and information,” he said.

There was also a gulf between populations in big cities and those in remote regions, where only 69 per cent of households had internet access.

“WA punches above its weight on this front, with 83 per cent of very remote households connected,” Professor Duncan said.

Report co-author Daniel Kiely said 10.5 per cent of single parents and 12.2 per cent of single women experienced a form of digital stress.

“With digital connectivity becoming more of a necessity than ever for Australian households, we can’t discount that this imposes a significant financial burden on some of our poorest households,” Dr Kiely said.

Internet quality was rated low by 26 per cent of small businesses in the South West and Pilbara, compared to 25 per cent in the Wheatbelt and 11 per cent in Perth.