New Broadband Infrastructure Will Be Used If Improved Pricing or Coverage

By January 22, 2009 Drop a comment

President Obama's economic stimulus package involves investment in broadband. Just how much in resources will be devoted has yet to be specified, but it is likely there will be investment in broadband infrastructure, says a Pew Internet & American Life Project article entitled "Obama's Online Opportunities II: If you build it, will they log on?" released Wednesday. While initially boosting jobs to create the first wave of improvements, it is likely that the improved service would make it more attractive to new subscribers, or to upgrading dial-up users. These new subscribers would tax the existing infrastructure, again stimulating a need for more installation workers. Two Pew Project surveys show the likelihood of potential broadband users actually using the new networks: A May 2008 survey on why dial-up users do not have a broadband connection at home, and a December 2007 survey that asked non-Internet users why they do not use the Internet.

Between the two surveys, seventeen percent (5.5 percent of all adults) indicated usability issues as why they did not have broadband or use the Internet - it was too difficult, a waste of time, they were too old to learn, or physically unable to use the service. Eighteen percent (5.9 percent of all adults) gave price related reasons - that the price must fall, service is too expensive, or they do not own a computer. For fourteen percent (4.5 percent), the service was not available where they live. Finally, 51 percent (16.4 percent) believe the Internet is not relevant - they were not interested in getting online, nothing could get them to switch to broadband, they were too busy, and other unspecified reasons.

While some respondents would not be affected by the stimulus proposal, price and availability make up 32 percent of respondents. With an investment in infrastructure, coverage will increase. The price barrier will also likely be addressed in the Obama package with changes to Lifeline and Link-Up program subsidies.

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