Uncommon Wisdom

Feb 24 2010   2:30PM GMT

FCC broadband study measures U.S. adoption rates

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

An FCC study on broadband adoption seems to have gotten some of the numbers right. The study shows that about 78% of U.S. adults are Internet users, with about 6% getting dialup service and 6% getting access through public or work facilities only. Cost is the main reason cited by people who don’t have home Internet service, and yet U.S. broadband is less expensive than broadband in many other areas with higher penetration.

We believe that price is a “safe” response; the actual reason why most users don’t have Internet is that they either lack PC skills, Internet skills, or both. We also note that the data does not support any view that having better broadband speed would induce higher levels of participation. We think some data is suspicious, and we doubt that mobile broadband has the penetration the study cites.

Research of this nature is easily contaminated by both a lack of understanding of the question (in past studies, users reported getting home Internet wirelessly if they used a wireless router on their cable or DSL broadband) and by a tendency to respond in ways that made the survey target appear smart or otherwise favorable.

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