Roadmap to Broadband Adoption Conference: Adoption Paradox Panel

Broadband Plan Commentary, Broadband's Impact, National Broadband Plan June 22nd, 2010

, Deputy Editor, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2010 – Consumer Research Director for the Federal Communications Commission John Horrigan led a panel on broadband adoption at the Roadmap for Broadband Adoption conference sponsored by Broadband for America.

Horrigan detailed the new data obtained via a large scale phone survey which contacted over 5,000 people that purposefully oversampled non-adopters to obtain detailed data. The sample showed that price was still the main reason why individuals do not adopt with 15% of respondents claiming the monthly fee is too high for them along in addition the cost of the hardware is too expensive and the fees are too high.

Robert Shapiro speaking at the Broadband Adoption Paradox Panel

The first panelist to speak was Manager of US Public Sector Initiatives for Intel Rick Herrmann who emphasized the need for increased education as a mechanism for increasing long term adoption. “The best path to high broadband adoption is to have a population that understands the importance” Hermann suggested that all students grades K-12 should have broadband access at home and at school. Additionally he stressed the need for properly trained teachers; Hermann proposed a national training center for IT Teachers.

The final speaker was Robert Shapiro, Senior Fellow of the Georgetown School of Business and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs who discussed the digital lag. Shapiro claimed that there is not a digital divide but rather a lag; lower income communities which are unable or unwilling to adopt will eventually adopt as the price drops.

In a report written in the late 1990s Shapiro predicted universal adoption by 2018; however he felt this prediction is no longer valid. Due to the explosion in high bandwidth applications the current level of investment and consumer cost will push universal adoption to many decades later. A possible solution would be to tier pricing to usage which would force high bandwidth users to pay more than low end users.

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