Connectivity with a Purpose

Thu, July 05, 2018

Internet usage gaps still persist among lower-income families, although more people are using mobile data plans to get online.

Based on NTIA’s most recent survey on Internet use conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017, more households now use a mobile data plan than wired broadband service. Additionally, for the first time since NTIA began tracking use of different types of computing devices, tablets have become popular than desktop computers among Americans, and the number of people who used multiple types of devices also increased substantially.

Even with these figures improving, large gaps still exist within vulnerable populations such as families with an annual household income under $25,000. These are the families that are largely excluded from the benefits of broadband, such as home education, vocational training, job searching, and generally improved quality of life. BroadbandUSA is working with communities, industry and non-profits to ensure digital inclusion for all Americans. Digital inclusion implies that individuals and communities have access to robust broadband connections; Internet-enabled devices that meet their needs; and the skills to explore, create and collaborate in the digital world.

To assist communities in improving digital inclusion, BroadbandUSA has recently published Connectivity with a Purpose: Considerations for Planning Digital Inclusion Efforts. This new resource helps local stakeholders consider factors that could impact or influence their digital inclusion efforts by evaluating two key questions: what are the characteristics of your community and what is the state of connectivity in your community. Reviewing the factors the resource provides will help users evaluate their local demographics, identify resources and assess the current state of broadband connectivity. Assessing the community broadband landscape is important for understanding the barriers to meaningful technology use and identifying opportunities for improvement. Price, lack of devices or skills, or low awareness of the Internet’s benefits may be hindering local broadband adoption.

Once you have a greater understanding of your local environment, you can work the BroadbandUSA Technical Assistance Team to broaden your community’s digital inclusion – and truly bring the Internet home to everyone.