Income is the most significant factor contributing to low broadband adoption rates, according to an analysis (PDF) released this month by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Only about half of households in census tracts with a median annual income level of less than $20,000 have in-home broadband access, as opposed to 86 percent of households with an annual income of at least $80,000. As levels of poverty increase across the state, broadband adoption rates decrease.
This finding is backed up by research from the Pew Research Center, which also identified price as a major barrier to household broadband access. Pew’s analysis showed that more than one third of Californians who have not adopted broadband at home cited cost as the main barrier, and 69 percent said it was a factor.
Several other factors affecting adoption rates were identified. Three quarters of urban census tracts had broadband, compared to only 40 percent of rural areas.
Race was also observed to be a factor, with Asian households having the highest adoption rate of 80 percent and African American households having the lowest rate of 58 percent.
The report identified 10 California communities with the lowest adoption rates and incomes to prioritize in the future for grant funding. Four of the ten are located within Fresno County, and three are located within Tulare County, both rural counties within the state.
CPUC also provided an updated interactive map showing detailed demographic data and adoption rates.
“Better understanding these communities and their specific barriers will aid in determining where California Advanced Services Fund broadband adoption funds are needed most and might have the greatest impact,” concluded the analysis.
The research aims to assist stakeholders, decision makers, and CASF applicants to gain a better understanding of the specific needs of their communities and know where to implement projects in order to yield the greatest benefits.