Defining and Measuring Meaningful Broadband Adoption

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Media Outlet: International Journal of Communication

Debates about broadband adoption have gained a new urgency in the United States alongside concerns about the flagging economy and decreased global rankings in high-speed connectivity. Broadband adoption—the process of connecting approximately 100 million U.S. residents who are not online (FCC, 2012a; Horrigan & FCC, 2010)—has become a cause of anxiety and a call to action among policy makers in recent years.2 The United States currently leads in technology innovation, producing many of the world’s most recognized companies, including Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, all of which rely on high-speed, always-on broadband connectivity. Yet, in many communities, major swaths of the population remain off the digital grid and unable to partake in broadband’s many benefits. In the Detroit, Baltimore, and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, at least a third of all residents cannot or do not go online using a residential fixed broadband connection (Fenton, 2012). 

Authors:

Greta Byrum is the director of the Resilient Communities program at New America. She reimagines the way we design, build, and manage communications systems to support local residents as leaders, organizers, and preparedness experts.

Seeta Peña Gangadharan is a program fellow at New America's Open Technology Institute (OTI) and an assistant professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science.