Minnesota Rural Broadband Surveys are out

I’m pleased to see that the latest Center for Rural Policy and Development Minnesota Internet Survey is now out and available. The Center measures broadband adoption and use. It’s a complement to the Connect Minnesota maps, which currently map access to broadband. Here are some of the highlights of the report:

Statewide, availability continues to spread: 76.8% of households report having computers, 73.5% (95.7% of those with computers) are connected to the Internet, and 69.5% of households (94.3% of households with Internet) are accessing the Internet via broadband. Computer and Internet adoption are up slightly from the last survey, taken in December 2007 and January 2008, when adoption rates were 75.9% for computers and 71.5% for Internet. Broadband adoption is up sharply, nearly 12 percentage points from 57.8% in 2007-08.

In Greater Minnesota, computer, Internet and broadband adoption continue to grow and are catching up with the Twin Cities. Computer ownership went from 73.0% in 2007-08 to 75.5%, while Internet connections have gone from 68.2% in 2007-08 to 71.2% in 2010. Broadband adoption grew from 52.3% to 65.4%.

It’s fun to look at back at the progress we’ve made throughout the state – and exciting to think of how we can use the data to reach more people in the future. For example the correlation is made between computer ownership and access so promoting programs such as PCs for People, which puts computers in the hands of low income households, should help increase broadband adoption. (And indeed, PCfP has told us that a huge percentage of their clients get broadband connections.) We might also take a look at how to promote broadband use without a computer. Maybe smart phones or other broadband-enabled devices will reach the folks who aren’t currently online.

We’ll be talking more about the report and the impact on planning at the Broadband Conference next week: Broadband 2010: Cultivating a Culture of Use.

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