When it comes to broadband adoption we have heard the same story for the last couple of years, in study after study. Broadband adoption rates are slowly climbing, but not enough to close the gap of 100 million people who are not connected. Simply put, every fifth home in the United States has no one in the household who uses the Internet, a recent NTIA report stated. The actual overall broadband adoption rate is 68%, which is up from 64% from a similar NTIA study a year ago. This percentage also aligns with various adoption rate studies released by states, non-profits, and public interest groups.
The problem with the numbers isn't as much about the actual percentage, as what is required to increase the adoption rate enough to connect 100 million Americans, as President Obama declared in his national broadband strategy. When it comes down to overcoming challenges with broadband availability the solution is usually well defined. The problem becomes a factor of technology and money. There are a number of ways broadband availability gaps can be filled.
The problem with broadband adoption is that there are several factors which contribute to the problem. One of the most significant barriers to broadband adoption is perception of need. This translates to people who simply claim they do not plan on using broadband because they don't need it. To overcome this problem, a compelling case needs to be made for using broadband to improve a person's quality of life in some manner. This can be very difficult to do when using the Internet requires a steady learning curve over a period of time.
Affordability and digital literacy are two other barriers that will need a combination of government and private industry cooperation to solve. Government must provide programs to reach citizens who cannot afford broadband or do not know how to use it, and private industry must find ways to get the technology to them and help them use it.
•As of October 2010, more than 68 percent of households used broadband Internet access service, up from 64 percent one year earlier Approximately 80 percent of households had at least one Internet user, either at home or elsewhere.
•Cable modem (32 percent) and DSL (23 percent) ranked as the most commonly used broadband technologies. Other technologies, including mobile broadband, fiber optics, and satellite services, accounted for a small, but growing, segment of households with broadband Internet access service.
•Dial-up use at home continued to decline from five percent in October 2009 to three percent one year later
•Over 77 percent of households had a computer – the principal way households access the Internet. Low computer use correlates with low broadband adoption rates.
•Broadband Internet adoption, (including computer use), varied across demographic and geographic groups. Lower income families, people with less education, those with disabilities, Blacks, Hispanics, and rural residents generally lagged the national average in both broadband adoption and computer use. Households with children in school exhibited higher broadband adoption and computer use rates than other households.
•Households reporting affordability as the major barrier to subscribing to broadband service cited both the fixed cost of purchasing a computer and the recurring monthly subscription costs as important factors
The most prevalent reasons households without broadband Internet (or dial-up service) gave for not subscribing were:
(1) No interest (Don't need it) (47 percent);
(2) Lack of affordability (Cannot afford it) (24 percent); and
(3) Inadequate computer (Can't afford/don't know how to use) (15 percent)