Rural Broadband Lag Shows Need for Special Solutions

By Phillip Brown, Director, Government Affairs & Advocacy, Connected Nation

On Thursday, January 13, 2011, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association released a study based on survey results from its member companies, which include “over 570 small and rural telephone cooperatives and commercial companies.” In its study, NTCA reports that 100% of its respondents reported offering broadband services, but that only 55% of customers have adopted broadband (which is an increase from a reported 38% adoption rate in a similar study by NTCA last year).

This study helps confirms research done by us here at Connected Nation. Our most recent consumer survey (conducted in 12 states and Puerto Rico with a sample size of 15,647 adults) of U.S. households shows a broadband adoption rate in rural America of only 54%, which is 11 percentage points below average. Further, according to Connected Nation research, computer ownership in rural America is six percentage points lower than average.

All of these data confirm that, as the public and private sectors partner together at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure all Americans have access to and are using affordable broadband services, rural America faces unique challenges (such as distance and low household density, in addition to socio-economic factors that impact all disadvantaged demographic groups) that require specialized attention and solutions.

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