New national research points to opportunities and action steps to shrink the Digital Divide
Dallas, Texas (September 14, 2023) – Connected Nation (CN), with support from AT&T, has published new research examining national attitudes toward home broadband (high-speed internet) and the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which offers discounts on home internet service and related equipment to low-income families.
Titled “Mind the Gap: Closing the Digital Divide through affordability, access, and adoption,” (connectednation.org/DigitalDivide2023) the report provides new insights into why more than 30 million eligible households are not opting to access internet service at home or leverage the ACP. The findings are the culmination of quantitative and qualitative research from households in five select markets: San Francisco, Calif; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Milwaukee, Wis.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Charlotte, N.C.
The data shows that, nationally, more than 1 in 4 low-income survey respondents do not subscribe to home internet service. This rate is higher in cities with lower median household incomes.
“It is all too easy for us to make assumptions about why a family or individual is not subscribing to high-speed internet,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO, CN. “But Connected Nation’s staff has worked in the space of digital equity and inclusion for more than 20 years, and we have learned in that time that the answer is not always the obvious one. This is a nuanced issue, and it’s critical for us to identify the pain points and work together to find solutions for not only expanding access to broadband but also helping people adopt and use the resources it offers.”
“Too many people – particularly in our most vulnerable neighborhoods – aren’t accessing what the internet offers, like opportunities to apply for jobs, seek education, secure health care and so much more,” said Mylayna Albright, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at AT&T. “By learning more about the barriers to internet adoption, we can continue to help provide targeted support and resources to connect more people to opportunity,”
Nearly 9% of low-income respondents surveyed said they don’t subscribe because the monthly cost of internet service is too high. While the ACP can help reduce the cost, the most common barrier to using the program was general awareness (35.8% are unfamiliar with ACP) and concerns about eligibility (30.5% of nonparticipating low-income households did not think they qualify).
However, 82.4% of the respondents who participate in the ACP say they were very satisfied or mostly satisfied with the program’s sign-up process, and that most use their internet connection for valuable resources such as homework, telework, participating in video meetings, and taking online classes.
To dive deeper into the data, learn how the study was conducted, access shareable graphics, and more, head to connectednation.org/DigitalDivide2023.
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About Connected Nation: The national nonprofit’s mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand access to and increase the adoption and use of broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies for all people. Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation. Learn more at connectednation.org.