Don’t need broadband? Think again as providers look to educate consumers

By Samantha Bookman | Fierce Telecom
Published: October 28, 2011

A couple of years ago I was having dinner with my uncle during a stopover in San Francisco. The conversation, as it is wont to do, turned eventually to the Internet, specifically to Facebook, which my uncle had joined but was not posting to very much. Why? I asked.

“Because it takes too long to load,” he replied. “I have dialup.”

I found this pretty amazing, considering he lives close enough to the city to get high-speed Internet, so I quizzed him a bit more about his reasons for staying with a dialup service. He had fairly sound ones: the price was very affordable; he wasn’t locked into a service contract–important because his carpentry work often took him out of town for weeks at a time; the service was reliable; and he didn’t see much use for Internet access beyond checking his email.

That conversation took place just as the Obama administration’s broadband stimulus effort was gearing up, an initiative that now is in full swing, with broadband rolling out–at various speeds–well beyond urban areas and into rural ones. So I was very interested to see the results of a recent study that found that not only did 28 percent of Minnesota residents not subscribe to a broadband service, a significant portion of them weren’t that interested in subscribing: 29 percent of those without broadband said there wasn’t enough Internet content worth viewing.

Only 8 percent of the survey participants said that they didn’t have access to broadband, so in the parts of Minnesota surveyed, which included rural areas, broadband access was not the biggest issue.

Minnesota wasn’t the only state surveyed as part of an effort by Connected Nation. In South Carolina–where a battle for municipal broadband regulation was fought recently–around 43 percent of residents do not subscribe to broadband. Again, only 8 percent said broadband was not available to them.

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