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Data Based Decision Making

A new report [pdf, 4.2MB] was released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, part of the US Department of Commerce.

This report presents the most accurate statistical profile of U.S. broadband Internet adoption currently available. The report features new analysis of “adoption gaps,” i.e., the differences in average broadband Internet adoption at home among different groups after controlling for demographic and geographic factors.

It is a 68 page report with a wealth of data to help understand the factors that differentiate levels of adoption and to try to understand the reasons for non-adoption of residential broadband.

In the US, people who don’t use the internet represent two thirds of non-users of broadband. A quarter of all American households reported that no one in those households used the Internet at any location. Looking at the data, about 20% of these explicitly blamed the price, about half said that they don’t need it or aren’t interested and another 20% said they don’t have a computer (or their computer is inadequate).

I suspect that this actually could be interpreted as cost and financial aspects keeping 90% of the people who aren’t using the internet from getting on-line. “Don’t need it” may mean that they have better things to do with their money, like feeding their kids or getting them warm boots.

The NTIA study is based on the US Census Bureau’s Internet Use Supplement, which surveyed 54,000 households in October 2009. There is a wealth of information to inform policy makers in countries developing a national digital agenda

It should be a guide for the type of data that countries should be gathering to understand their own unique factors.

By Mark Goldberg, Telecommunications Consultant

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