Why don’t they have broadband? It depends how you ask.

NDIA took an interesting look at why people don’t have broadband. For years the answer was always a “lack of interest” followed by cost. But the NDIA tried a new tactic where they allowed people to choose more than one answer and they found that more people cited cost…

A close analysis of the debate leads to two conclusions:

There are multiple reasons for non-adoption: Research spanning the past decade that investigates non-broadband subscribers finds that non-adopters cite more than one reason behind their choice. In 2010, 2015, and 2019, national survey data shows that, when offered the chance to cite more than one reason for not subscribing to broadband at home, people generally cite 2 or 3 reasons.

Cost is the chief reason for not having broadband: Research that rests on the notion that reasons for non-adoption are multiple uniformly finds that cost is the most important reason that people do not have broadband. At least half of non-broadband subscribers cite cost (either monthly fee or access devices) as a reason they do not subscribe when offered multiple choices, with a plurality citing cost in follow-up questions about the most important reason for non-adoption.

The reason it matters, as the report points out, is that combating disinterest and affordability are different fights. Education and experience helps build an interest; lower costs (or higher income) build affordability.

These aren’t mutually exclusive causes or fights but it does impact how you address them. And it makes a huge difference from a policy perspective. Because we’re no longer asking legislators to provide an unwanted service, we’re asking them to close a gap.

One of the weird non-broadband things I do is work with people experiencing homelessness. When asked if they’d like to have a home, some people will say no. But a few questions later you realize they do want a home they just don’t want to take space from someone they think is more deserving. They don’t think about how having a home might make education, employment and healthcare easier for them, cost the community less and lead them to greater personal and societal productivity. The answer is part education and part affordability.

In many ways broadband is similar. When you have to decide between broadband or dinner, or rent or new shoes for your kids, broadband is an easy line item to cut. But if you know how broadband can help you make money, finish a degree (or gain an employable skill), access remote healthcare, or just shop smarter – it’s easier to cut. But it takes time and/or training to recoup those costs and more forward to again, becoming more personally and societally productive.

For folks in the digital equity frontlines this finding isn’t shocking. But understanding how and why people say they don’t want broadband is helpful in knowing how to approach it in theory, practice and policy.

Event Feb 11: How to Bridge the Broadband Gap: A Conversation with State Leaders

On Feb. 11, The Pew Charitable Trusts will host a day-long event unveiling state practices in five categories that are proving effective for expanding broadband: stakeholder engagement, policy framework, planning and capacity building, funding and operations, and program evaluation and evolution.

The evens starts a 8am CST. It will be livestreamed and they are planning on lively Twitter discussion with #PewBroadband.

Bernadine Joselyn will be part of the discussion in DC. It’s going to be a great chance to let Minnesota shine and learn from what folks are doing in other states.

Affordable internet is increasing in most areas but not Minnesota

Cord Cutters new reports that most areas saw an increase in affordable broadband but Minnesota did not…

Broadband Now has released their quarterly State of Broadband in America report with new insights about trends in broadband across the country.

In the Q4 report for 2019, Broadband Now found an increase in the availability of affordable broadband access. While trends in speed didn’t change much from last quarter, the report does show increased access to basic level broadband.

Across the country, there was an overall increase in the availability of broadband access for $60/month or less. Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi showed the largest increases. Only four states showing a decrease in affordable access: Wyoming, Oregon, Minnesota, and Idaho.

Red Wing Public Library now lending hot spots

RiverTowns.Net reports…

The Red Wing Public Library, like most libraries, is in the business of lending. Now a new item is available to be checked-out: a internet hot spot.

Randy Decker covers public services for the library. He explained that the library had considered buying hot spots for a few years, but in the past they were too expensive. One estimate was about $1,000 per device annually.

This changed when nonprofits Mobile Beacon and TechSoup collaborated to provide the hot spots to nonprofits and libraries at $15 per device.

Currently, checkout is free for patrons due to funding from the Friends of the Red Wing Library for the 10 hot spots.

Census Tutorial – prepare and open the door to digital training

A little bit off my normal post – but the census is so important, I want to make sure everyone is prepared. Also – getting someone to prepare is a good way to open the door to more digital training!

www.EasyCensusHelp.org a free website, interactive tutorial, from

Generations on Line to help folks gain confidence in filling out the

2020 Census online.

It reviews all the Census questions and goes over each of the online skills

needed to complete the Census forms (e.g. dropdown boxes, radio dials,

how to correct a typo…)

It is a safe place for folks to practice BEFORE going to live Census site.

EVENT ALERT: House Hearing on Digital Equity Jan 29

The NDIA reports…

The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold the first ever federal hearing focused on digital equity on Wednesday, January 29 at 10:30 a.m. The hearing is entitled, “Empowering and Connecting Communities through Digital Equity and Internet Adoption.” Witnesses at this hearing include our own Executive Director, Angela Siefer as well as two NDIA affiliates. We are confident that the hearing will fully represent local digital inclusion expertise! This is progress towards NDIA’s work to: advocate for federal policies to promote digital equity, educate policymakers about the need for digital equity, and promote research that can inform public understanding, public policy and community strategies related to digital inclusion and equity.

This hearing will be livestreamed and recorded. Don’t miss this momentous step towards digital equity!
Wednesday, January 29 at 10:30 AM (ET)

The meeting will be livestreamed:

NTIA Launches Minority Broadband Initiative – for Southern US

Big news from the NTIA on their Minority Broadband Initiative…

Today, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) launched a new Minority Broadband Initiative (MBI) focused on solving broadband deployment challenges in vulnerable communities. NTIA announced the initiative at the 2019 Carolinas Alliance for Success in Education (CASE) Summit held at Johnson C. Smith University. The program seeks to ensure that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) can successfully advance broadband connectivity on their campuses and in their surrounding communities, enabling the participation of all Americans in the digital economy.

To prepare students and surrounding communities to lead in the digital age, this year’s CASE Summit highlights the importance of HBCUs as force multipliers for economic growth and rural prosperity. The summit is committed to building strategies to compete successfully for federal and public-private resources to fulfill HBCUs’ historical mission. …

Broadly, the MBI seeks to achieve the following strategic policy objectives:

  1. Convening a forum where stakeholders can explore options for leveraging HBCU broadband infrastructure to connect neighboring communities of vulnerable populations; and

  2. Using broadband infrastructure investment as a catalyst for adoption that will result in job growth and economic development and deployment of advanced mobile technologies primarily in the economically distressed communities of the rural South.

NTIA’s work on the Minority Broadband Initiative complements the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which supports the nation’s priorities of fully deploying 5G and improving the prosperity of economically distressed and unconnected rural communities. The CASE Summit and Smart HBCU planning teams will facilitate conversations among North Carolina and South Carolina HBCUs, local community leaders, and state stakeholders to ensure affordable broadband in their communities, especially rural areas.

I read it with great interest as I know we could use a push in reducing the achievement gap in Minnesota and broadband would be a great tool. But after reading the report mentioned above that the intention isn’t to impact Minnesota. The report is more focused on the MBI’s strategy policy objective…

Using broadband infrastructure investment as a catalyst for adoption that will result in job growth and economic development and deployment of advanced mobile technologies primarily in the economically distressed communities of the rural South.

It feels like maybe we could call this a Minority Broadband Initiative for the South, which is great but that might indicate that one was in the works for the Midwest and North as well.