Pew: Broadband access at 47%, adoption of it slowing

I’m always interested in this kind of stuff, but often hesitant to post much about it because I really just graft knowledge from others to learn about the topic myself. Which means, you can expect an update to this post because I’m sure that Bill Callahan (hint hint) will tell us what the Pew info really means.

5 thoughts on “Pew: Broadband access at 47%, adoption of it slowing

  1. Yeah, that’s why I think high speed internet access may be something different than simply a consumer entertainment technology. As more crucial agencies come to assume that everyone can get to their websites to request information or services, it could widen the gulf between those haves and haves-not Toffler talked about.But I think we’re a little away from that. One of the reasons there is this long tail-off in the adoption rate of a technology is that many of the people yet to adopt simply don’t want to. My 85 year old Dad flatly refused to use a computer, even though he was himself immersed in leading-edge technology in his day (he was a radar specialist in WWII). Maybe I’m a little like him in that I choose not to participate in the ‘always-connected’ world of the Blackberry etc. I rarely give out my home phone number, and instead tell folks my cell phone number. When I’m at home, the cell phone is off. And I especially enjoy times I’m out on my motorcycle and am just unreachable. I actually saw a guy riding the other day, in traffic, with a cell phone held to his ear by his left hand. I expect natural selection to correct that problem.Lastly, and thinking of my Libertarian/Democrat Dad, there are those who will say ‘leave me the Hell alone, I don’t want to use the internet and I don’t need anything you have badly enough to permit you to require me to have the internet!” He never really liked the idea that he had to let the government direct-deposit his Social Security check.PL

  2. That’s a really helpful comment, Paul. So let me follow-up: what SHOULD we be aiming for, hoping for, expecting from providers or government or education? Our society barely tolerates the existence of people without phones – that is to say, there are many services from which you’ll be shut out of if you don’t have a phone, services which can be life-saving. Where are we on that continuum in regard to internet access technology? I’m guessing quite early.

  3. Jill:I’ve spent a career in the computing and telecommunications world, including 25 years with CompuServe and a few with Worldcom/UUNET. Regardless of what technology we talk about, there is a remarkably consistent market penetration pattern in which there is a spike of early adopters, who will tolerate the bugs and glitches; followed later by those who see merit to the technology, but wait for it to get cheaper and more reliable. And finally, there always remains a long tail of adoption into the rest of the market. When was the last black & white TV sold? Long after color TVs was introduced. Are there still any rotary dial phones in use (yep)? Does everyone have a CD player (nope). I can remember a time when my family didn’t have a phone in our home and we had to walk to the grandparents house to make a call (and they had a party line). This was in the late 1950s, eighty years after the invention of the telephone.One could argue that high speed internet access is something different — that if you aren’t ‘plugged in’ you get left behind. In the 1980s I heard Alvin Toffler predict that the “haves” and “haves-not” would be determined by access to information (this was well before the internet). We are probably headed down that road.There are no doubt some folks who know how to use high speed internet service, and want to get high speed internet service, but can’t. I live in a rural township, but can see the building housing the Governor’s office from my deck. Still, we couldn’t get high speed out here until about a year ago. Our cable provider doesn’t offer it (maybe the new state control of franchising will fix that), and we’re too far from the telephone central office for DSL (since fixed with the installation of a fiberoptic distribution network nearby).There are also folks who want high speed internet, know how to use it, and have it available, but can’t afford it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t available at a nearby public library or other shared facility. Nonetheless, we may have to come to think of high speed internet as so important to our society that we’ll subsidize it for the poorest folks.But back to the point — 50% adoption is probably right on for this point in the lifecycle of this technology.PL

  4. But how fast can it get? Will there be, should there be a stratification, in recognition that maybe eventually everyone will have some kind of access but the speed will be all over the place?

  5. It all depends on how one slices and dices the numbers. Some studies have cited a higher figure for broadband access. It all depends on how the study calculates surfers using high speed access at work or school. And that is tricky because, well, folks at work aren’t supposed to be goofing off online…This issue impacts web design. What works for high speed sometimes won’t be practical for dial up access.Also, in these studies “high speed” is usually defined as “anything that’s better than dial up.” But really, “high speed” means FIBER. And that is REALLY too slow in coming.(BTW most wireless access is IMHO too slow.)

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