A Portrait of Non-Adopters

Despite extensive efforts to increase broadband use among non-adopters, a stubborn 15% of the population remains off-line—a number that has remained virtually unchanged for the past three years.

Pew Research Center has released results of a new study that looks at the composition of this 15%. Some of the results are surprising, others not so much.

Among the genders, Pew finds that men and women are equal—15% of each are not Internet users. Along racial/ethnic lines, 20% of blacks are non-users, as are 18% of Hispanics, 14% of whites and 5% of Asians.

In the “knock me over with a feather” department, a substantially greater percentage of older Americans are non-Internet users than younger Americans. Only 3% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 do not use the Internet, compared with 6% of those 30 to 49, 19% of those 50 to 64, and 39% of those 65 and older.

In terms of average income levels, 25% of households earning less than $30,000 annually are non-users, as are 14% of those earning $30,000 to $49,999, 5% of those between $50,000 and $74,999, and 3% of those at $75,000 and higher. Similarly, with respect to educational attainment, 33% of those with less than a high school education are non-Internet users, compared to 23% of those with a high school diploma, 9% of those with some college, and 4% of those with a college degree. Read more

If You Build It, They Will Subscribe

By deploying fiber further out into their networks, NTCA member companies are able to offer their customers higher broadband speeds than ever before, a recent NTCA member survey shows.

According to NTCA’s recently released 2014 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey Report, 45% of those respondents currently deploying fiber serve at least 50% of their customers using fiber to the home (FTTH), up from 41% last year. As a result, 83% of respondents’ customers are able to receive broadband service in excess of 10 Mbps.

The overall broadband take rate for survey respondents was 70%.  The most popular speed tier offered was 10.0 Mbps and above, the choice of 34% of responding companies’ customers, a dramatic increase from 8.5% last year.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents’ customers are served by FTTH, while 31% are served by copper loops, 18% by cable modem and 12% by fiber to the node (FTTN).

Seventy-four percent of survey respondents indicated that regulatory uncertainty remains a barrier to fiber deployment, second only to cost (92%).  Read more

“Start Spreading the Wi-Fi…”

If you can get coverage there, you can get coverage anywhere: New York City mayor Bill de Blasio recently unveiled plans to provide affordable, high speed broadband to every resident and business in the Big Apple within 10 years.

Nationwide, 17% of American households lack broadband access, according to the FCC. In New York City, the gulf is even greater: 36% of households below the poverty line, and 18% of those above it, currently lack broadband access, for an overall total of 27% of New York City’s 8.4 million residents.

As part of his “One New York” equity initiative, Mayor de Blasio has proposed taking some dramatic steps to bring ubiquitous broadband to the city by 2025. For example, some 10,000 payphones across the city will be converted to gigabit Wi-Fi hotspots. The New York Public Library allows patrons to check out a Wi-Fi connection. The mayor is tapping into residents’ creativity, as well: a “Calls for Innovations” contest is accepting input through June 30, providing New Yorkers a means of submitting Project Proposals or Policy Ideas for expanding broadband coverage. The city’s Broadband Task Force will oversee the initiative. Read more

Electric-Telco Partnership Summit Shows Mutual Value in Collaboration

Last week’s Electric-Telco Partnership Summit, orchestrated by the National Rural Telecommunication Cooperative (NRTC), NTCA and others, presented a number of situations where carriers and electric utilities have found mutually beneficial ways to leverage one another’s strengths to expand and improve broadband services to customers. There appears to be an encouraging and growing awareness that rural carriers in particular have unique experience and skills when it comes to deploying, managing and maintaining broadband networks. There are many details to consider, but more carriers and utilities are showing that challenges can often be overcome if both parties decide to work together.

Last week’s summit served as a preview of sorts, as this concept will be covered in depth at the upcoming IP Possibilities Conference and Expo this April in a special track focused on collaboration. Technical and business tracks will also be offered, along with informative general sessions. The conversation on collaboration was initiated at the summit, as a dynamic group of more than 100 attendees, representing both carriers and utilities, heard success stories from around the nation. One of the items covered by presenters was that one of the first hurdles is often initiating a discussion with the right people. If a mutual understanding can be reached, collaborative action leading to results can be implemented. Read more

Peeling the Broadband Onion

Recent studies of the barriers to broadband adoption show that lack of demand—i.e., not feeling as if the Internet has anything of interest to offer the individual—is among the top barriers to adoption, alongside lack of resources, lack of knowledge/experience, and lack of availability. In reality, however, broadband is one of those services that reveals more the deeper you become immersed in it. New adopters often discover numerous life-improving applications that they had never even known about, much less considered, before getting online.

Case in point: a recent study by Parks Associates shows that 25% of U.S. broadband households find the concept of a home energy monitoring service appealing. According to the report, entitled “360 View: Energy Management, Smart Home, and Utility Programs,” 26% of respondents would be interested in an HVAC monitoring service, and 22% an appliance management service.

“The connected home industry is really taking off as customers are seeing the value of added convenience and meaningful energy savings,” said Stuart Lombard, CEO at ecobee, a company that sells Wi-Fi enabled thermostats for residential and commercial applications. “With smart thermostats we’re seeing customers engage with their home’s energy use on a regular basis through an app….customers now have the tools to make smarter choices around their energy consumption.”

A large number of broadband non-adopters likely have no idea how the Internet can help them in their daily lives. Making customers aware of the numerous real world benefits available to them through a broadband connection can be a vital step toward overcoming the stubborn lack of demand barrier and ultimately increasing broadband adoption rates.

Measuring the Impact of Technology on Online Workers—and Their Bosses

Despite the constant development of new apps and tools for use by online workers, a recent survey shows that their most important tool is an old workhorse: email.

According to Pew Research Internet Project’s recently-released “Technology’s Impact on Workers,” 61% of those workers surveyed identified email as “very important” to doing their job. The Internet was next, at 54%, followed by landline phone (35%), cell or smartphone (24%), and social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn (4%).

Pew surveyed 1,066 adult Internet users in September 2014. Of that group, 535 adults employed full- or part-time served as the basis of this study.

While many employers worry that the Internet can be a distraction in the workplace, the survey results don’t bear that out. Only 7% of online working adults admitted their productivity has declined due to the Internet, email and cell phones, while 46% say they feel more productive.

The study showed bosses are changing the way they deal with the Internet, as well. Forty-six percent of survey respondents say that their employer blocks access to certain websites. The same percentage indicated that their employer has implemented rules about what employees can say or post online, double the percentage who did so when Pew first conducted its survey in 2006.

Crowdsourcing Apps

This weekend I came across this article on crowdsourcing apps. It has some great examples of such apps and also points to an early example of the crowdsourcing of data.

As the article notes, the Oxford English Dictionary is possibly the earliest known example of the crowdsourcing of data. In the mid-19th century, the authors issued a public call for volunteers to send in words and usage examples. The dictionary’s authors received about six million submissions from the public.

As for more modern examples of the crowdsourcing of data with technology, my favorite example in the article is an app called Rainforest Connection. Rainforest Connection is an organization that uses recycled cellphones to combat illegal rainforest logging. They do this by connecting phones to small solar power cells, mounting them in trees, and using the phones to listen to the sounds of the forest. When they hear the distinctive sounds of a chainsaw, forest rangers are alerted. This article discusses all of the negative implications of illegal logging, if you’re interested.

I also love this one: Stereopublic, “Crowdsourcing Quiet.” This app has users go to a specific spot in their city and record the noise (or lack of noise, as may be the case) and send it to Stereopublic. The crowdsourced data creates a map of how noisy various sections of your city are. I love living in a major urban area with lots to do and lots of shopping and dining in proximity to my house, but at night I need some quiet. I can imagine using this when my wife and I start looking for a new house.

These are just a few examples of the crowdsourcing data apps in the article, but they show how technology and the data it can deliver to us can make a real difference in our lives, and even in keeping our planet healthy.

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