Broadband Adoption and Usage: If You’re Not Online, You’re Missing What You Need to Know

by Broadband Breakfast on July 6, 2012

Having access to broadband technology and other digital tools is a key ingredient to economic, social, and political connectedness. Yet only 69 percent of Americans have broadband internet connections at home.

What vital services are the other one-third missing? One example was apparent at last Tuesday’s Broadband Breakfast Club, on “The Internet Presidential Campaign of 2012”: access to news and information vital to full political participation.

At the Broadband Breakfast Club event, a range of top panelists – including individuals associated with President Barack Obama’s online campaign in 2008, and with Gov. Mitt Romney’s online campaign this year – discussed how new uses of social networking are influencing the race. The event was featured in U.S. News and World Report.

Among the biggest phenomenon: the dramatic drop-off of viewership of live television. Within the last week, 30 percent of Americans said they did not watch live television, either broadcast or cable, according to Ryan Meerstein. In Ohio, a major political battleground state, the number was even higher: 40 percent.

That falloff from live television viewership makes it plain that broadband internet is the multi-faceted medium for communications: whether “broadcast” or customized, whether professional or social. If you aren’t hooked into broadband, you’re likely to be as relevant as broadcast television.

Addressing the Underserved

Next month’s Broadband Breakfast Club – on July 17, 2012 – will address what efforts are being undertaken to promote broadband usage and adoption to the nation’s underserved population. What are governments, corporations and foundations – including the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Lifeline and the industry-led Connect to Compete program – doing to tackle this problem?

It’s also vital to understand the significance of broadband disconnectedness: increasing isolation from the mainstreams of today’s information ecology.

We’ve long adjusted to the fact that the American elite no longer reads the same newspapers or watches the same Nightly News broadcasts. Instead, we’ve moved to an exciting fragmentation in blogs, tweets, and social networks. What we have in common now are the use of social networks: Facebook, Google and other niche marketplaces or business needs.

It’s all the more important that broadband literacy becomes part of our common knowledge. Being able to logon, to use social networks wisely, to search with savvy, and to create a LinkedIn resume as well as a PDF version – these are the types of skills far more necessary than it ever was to be media literate.

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