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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.

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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

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