Change font size

Press Release

Broadband Adoption and Usage: What Has Four Years Taught Us?
February 6, 2013

As a prelude to the February 7, 2013, FCC/NTIA summit, Vice President and Media and Technology Institute Director Dr. John Horrigan has released a statement on broadband adoption knowledge since the release of the National Broadband Plan.


In September 2009, the FCC’s Broadband Task Force, appointed by Chairman Genachowski and run by Blair Levin, made a lengthy presentation before the Commission to give an interim report on how development of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) was going. You can see all 168 slides here. I was privileged to be part of the FCC’s team that assembled the NBP. To prepare for my participation in the FCC’s February 2013 Broadband Summit, I went back and looked at the 2009 presentation which, at the time, represented the received wisdom about the state of broadband adoption. Below I discuss four lessons learned in light of what we thought we knew in 2009 and what we know today.

To summarize, we learned that:

  1. The previous decade’s fast growth rates in broadband adoption was not sustainable into this decade;
  2. Barriers to adoption are more complex than we thought;
  3. The non-adoption problem is solvable. The research showed that non-adopters aren’t a hopeless group of (mostly old) people who dislike technology. The right kinds of programs can lure people to broadband;
  4. Smartphones help close adoption gaps, but have limits as standalone access devices and are mostly used to add to users’ access means, not as a substitute for wireline.

The future challenge is how to sustain progress. To do that, I recommend:

  • Developing a “best practice” tool-kit on broadband planning to help states and localities better engage with stakeholders to improve their broadband environment, and;
  • Using reform of the Lifeline/Link-Up program to direct a portion of Lifeline funds to state and local planning and program activities to support broadband.

That is, the existing Lifeline model, which essentially is a “carrier to consumer” flow of funds, should be amended so it is a “community to consumer” model. Doing this will require legislative action.


Read the entire statement by clicking the icon below.

Related Topics

  • Broadband
  • Digital Divide

Media Contact

(202) 789-3500

Focus Magazine


Since 1972, FOCUS magazine has provided coverage of national issues to a leadership audience of over 18,0000 readers.

Read More »

Upcoming Events