Mark Goldberg

What we don’t even know

Having released a National Broadband Plan 4 years ago, the US has been moving down a path to execute on its digital strategy.

A paper was released yesterday by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies [pdf] that struck me as highlighting that those of us in Canada don’t even know what we don’t know.

In the paper, “Broadband Adoption and Usage: What Has Four Years Taught Us?”, the author John Horrigan writes:

To summarize, we learned that:

  1. The previous decade’s fast growth rates in broadband adoption was not sustainable into this decade;
  2. Barriers to adoption are more complex than we thought;
  3. The non-adoption problem is solvable. The research showed that non-adopters aren’t a hopeless group of (mostly old) people who dislike technology. The right kinds of programs can lure people to broadband;
  4. Smartphones help close adoption gaps, but have limits as standalone access devices and are mostly used to add to users’ access means, not as a substitute for wireline.

The report expands on each of these points.

I still hear too many in Canada focusing on the supply side. Are we doing enough to understand and address the barriers to adoption in Canada?

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