Our analysis shows affordability as a driving factor around why some households continue to remain offline, confirming that cost of service is an essential part of increasing Internet adoption.
To dig into this issue more, NTIA added a new question to the 2021 NTIA Internet Use Survey. We asked households not using the Internet from home: “At what monthly price, if any, would your household buy home Internet service?” This new survey question was a result of suggestions received from the public in response to our Request for Comment published in 2020, along with the results of two rounds of cognitive testing conducted by experts at the U.S. Census Bureau.
Here are the answers…
Answers to the new question showed that the mean price offline households wanted to pay was approximately $10 per month, though it’s worth noting that three in four households gave $0 or “none” as their answer.
Interestingly, households citing expense as their main reason for non-use were more willing to pay some amount for home Internet service, with a mean reported price of $16 and 54 percent responding that they would only purchase home Internet service if it were $0.
In contrast, households citing a lack of need or interest in home Internet service were only willing to pay $6 per month on average, with 83 percent of the group giving an answer of $0. Overall, while reduced monthly service costs could attract some number of offline households (including nearly half of those in the “too expensive” group), many more indicated that they could not or would not pay any amount (see Figure 1).
One of the reasons many of us are drawn to technology is that it’s logical. People aren’t. So it’s hard to convince someone they want something they don’t understand or use. It may be lack of time. It may be fear of security or privacy. It may be an obstinance. But having done some digital training or persuading, it is most rewarding to find a reason for people to get online. Finding a way where technology can make their life easier – but at this stage it’s very much a one-on-one proposal.