So, if you are in your 50’s, have limited disposable income, find modern gadgetry hard to use and of questionable relevance, what is going to turn you into a home broadband subscriber? Two frequently suggested strategies—reducing prices and improving infrastructure availability—are likely to have limited impacts. Most research on broadband adoption suggests price is not a large factor in the purchasing decision….The passage of time has taken care of a portion of the gap in broadband adoption. The passage of time may well take care of the rest, but the likely time horizon will test the patience of many stakeholders in the broadband debate. To be sure, more competition, lower prices, and greater availability of faster infrastructure will be welcomed by American consumers. By themselves, however, they are not likely to be enough to lure non-online users off the digital sidelines. Pew Internet Project research makes it clear that non-users don’t yet see the benefits of home high-speed access. To reach the underserved, policymakers might consider more aggressive and targeted outreach efforts that educate hard-to-reach populations about the benefits of online connectivity.
Read Why It Will Be Hard to Close the Broadband Divide from the Pew Internet & American Life project. Previously from WNM: Digital Divide evolving from a question of access, to one of social skills
Dissatisfied by private Internet providers’ service or speed, cities from Lancaster, Pa., to Boulder, Colo., have sought to build their own networks to provide upgraded, and in some cases, free service to residents. In turn, providers such as Time Warner and Comcast, among others, have complained to state lawmakers about unfair government competition….This year, Wyoming became one of 12 states that restricts public broadband Internet, joining Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Legislation proposing restrictions in North Carolina is in the committee phase but has inspired opposition from cities, consumer advocates such as the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group and tech companies such as Google. The debate also has caught the attention of U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., who has drafted a bill to keep states from putting up barriers to public Internet. “Broadband is every bit as essential as electricity was when it was emerging 100 years ago,” he said. One of the state legislators Boucher wants to stop, Rep. Drew Saunders, also drew a comparison to the utilities of the past. The Democratic chairman of the N.C. House Public Utilities Committee said the bill he introduced this year would apply 21st-century technology to the principle that municipalities shouldn’t compete with industry.
Read this article from USA Today
Municipal Wi-Fi: A Failure To Communicate from Business Week
American Wi-Fi gets off to a bad start from the New Scientist online
Muni Wi-Fi hits wall of economic and political realities from ComputerWorld
Bringing public Wi-Fi to small-town America from C|Net
Facing economic realities of muni Wi-Fi from C|Net
City wi-fi plans under scrutiny from the BBC
Jim Redding refused to own a cell phone. And the notion of having a BlackBerry or iPod was out of the question. Yet, within the past year, the 69-year-old Maryland resident has become not only computer savvy but also an avid Internet surfer. After taking a free course for senior citizens at the local library, Redding sends e-mails, organizes boat inspections for his yacht club and even drops in on YouTube to keep current on videos.
“I was dragged kicking and screaming” into the computer age,” he said. “I used to gripe about it, but I got the basics and just kept seeing what more I could learn.” Redding is hardly alone. In recent years, seniors have been hooking up to the Internet at a rate that far outpaces the rest of the population.
Read this article from the Chicago Tribune
The net is helping to close the digital divide between industrialised nations, suggests a report. The annual e-readiness rankings by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows Asian and African nations catching up with big net users such as Denmark. The report says this is partly due to broadband which is now cheap and affordable in almost every nation.
Read this item from the BBC