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Confronting the Broadband Adoption Challenge – How do We Fix it?

How do you boost broadband adoption? That was the subject of a webinar hosted by Intel and other industry leaders to stress the importance of tackling the key barriers to broadband adoption. Connected Nation Chief Executive Officer Brian Mefford served as one of the panelists in the discussion with other broadband researchers and technology leaders.

Mefford was joined by Michael Santorelli, director of the Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute; Aaron Smith from the Pew Internet & American Life Project; Eric Greenman, manager of Service Provider Marketing at Intel Americas; and Bill Wallace from DigitalBridge Communications. The webinar was hosted by

There was a common theme among the findings and experiences of the group, most notably: populations, particularly those that are older, have less education, or lower income, continue to lag behind in broadband adoption.

However, all parties agreed that simply providing affordable broadband service to an area or particular group of people does not mean that adoption rates will instantly rise.

Coupling affordable high-speed Internet with digital literacy programs, like computer classes, and community involvement and technology planning programs have the most significant impact on broadband adoption rates, they said.

At Connected Nation, the efforts to address the issues of broadband adoption are two-fold, Mefford said. The first is to identify the reasons that people do not use broadband. The second is to address those issues at a community level.

“It’s not just about identifying the common barriers at a macro level,” he said. “We must drill down further to the local level and understand particular communities’ nuances. By doing so, we are able to bring forward and execute the most relevant and high-impact solutions to broadband adoption barriers.”

Already, Connected Nation has designed or started such community-specific programs. Connected Nation, along with Intel and other technology companies, have proposed a program called Every Citizen Online (SM), which will work with local communities to provide affordable broadband service, along with digital literacy training and a personal computer.

In addition, Connected Nation’s work through its state-based initiative, Connected Tennessee, has seen the fruits of such local-level collaboration.

In Tennessee, work to provide expanded access to and use of broadband has seen significant success. Since Connected Tennessee’s 2007 inception, more than 250,000 Tennesseans have gained access to broadband.

In addition, Connected Tennessee has donated more than 2,000 computers to children, families, and communities through its Computers 4 Kids program. One such donation, to the Saint John Baptist Church After-School Program in Stanton, stands out.

here to view a video about the impact of the C4K donation and the importance of community involvement in combating broadband adoption barriers.

Overall, the key to widespread adoption and use of high-speed Internet is a group effort — from community leaders to local business to technology providers.

To learn more about the work of Connected Nation and its partners, visit