Nearly a third of the US population is not connected to the internet, according to an FCC study released in advance of the unveiling of the National Broadband Plan next month. Of this total, only 19% have opted out by choice – the others lack money or digital education.
“We need to tackle the challenge of connecting 93 million Americans to our broadband future,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “In the 21st century, a digital divide is an opportunity divide. To bolster American competitiveness abroad and create the jobs of the future here at home, we need to make sure that all Americans have the skills and means to fully participate in the digital economy.”
36% of those not linked in, 28M individuals, say that the costs of broadband are too high – either they cannot afford a computer, or they believe that installation fees and monthly subscription rates are too high.
17M people, representing 22% on non-adopters, say they lack computer knowledge or are concerned about being exposed to inappropriate material, or are afraid that they’ll be opening up a security threat.
15M people, the aforementioned 19%, say that either the internet is irrelevant or that they are happy with dial-up service.
The FCC noted that many of the people citing reasons for not getting on line with broadband indicated more than one reason – for example, many listed both expense and lack of knowledge as reasons for not adopting broadband.
“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.”