FCC Survey: 93 Million Americans Disconnected from Broadband Opportunities


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The survey also found that non-adopters usually have more than one barrier that keeps them from having broadband service at home. Over half of non-adopters, when selecting from a menu of possible barriers to adoption, chose three or more. For example, more than half of non-adopters who cited cost also listed reasons relating to digital literacy or relevance.

"The gap in broadband adoption is a problem with many different dimensions that will require many different solutions," said John Horrigan, Director of Consumer Research for the Omnibus Broadband Initiative. "Lowering costs of service or hardware, helping people develop online skills, and informing them about applications relevant to their lives are all key to sustainable adoption."

The interaction of attitudes and use of communications goods and services creates four categories of non-adopters:

  • Near Converts, who make up 30 percent of non-adopters, have the strongest tendencies toward getting broadband. They have high rates of computer ownership, positive attitudes about the Internet. Many are dial-up or "not-at-home" users, and affordability is the leading reason for non-adoption among this group. They are relatively youthful compared with other non-adopters, with a median age of 45.
  • Digital Hopefuls, who make up 22 percent of non-adopters, like the idea of being online but lack the resources for access. Few have a computer and, among those who use one, few feel comfortable with the technology. Some 44 percent cite affordability as a barrier to adoption and they are also more likely than average to say digital literacy are a barrier. This group is heavily Hispanic and has a high share of African-Americans.
  • Digitally Uncomfortable, who make up 20 percent of non-adopters, are the mirror image of the Digital Hopefuls; they have the resources for access but not a bright outlook on what it means to be online. Nearly all of the Digitally Uncomfortable have computers, but they lack the skills to use them and have tepid attitudes toward the Internet. This group reports all three barriers: affordability, digital literacy, and relevance.
  • Digitally Distant, who make up 28 percent of non-adopters, do not see the point of being online. Few in this group see the Internet as a tool for learning and most see it as a dangerous place for children. This is an older group (the median age is 63), nearly half are retired and half say that either relevance or digital literacy are barriers to adoption.

    The Consumer Survey interviewed 5,005 adult Americans between Oct. 19 and Nov. 23, 2009. The margin of error based on results based on the entire sample is plus or minus 1.6 percentage points. The survey included an over-sample of non-adopters, resulting in interviews of 2,334 adults who are not broadband users at home. The margin of error for results based on non-adopters is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. Interviewers conducting the survey provide a Spanish-language option for respondents wishing to take the survey in Spanish.

    Read the Broadband Adoption and Use in America online.




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