Broadband and Device Adoption

Increasing Broadband Adoption. Enjoying the benefits of internet access is directly related to training, equipment and networks. While robust broadband network connections require speed, quality, and capacity that allow for users to accomplish common tasks, the completion of these tasks also demands affordable access to equipment and basic levels of digital literacy. As a result, broadband adoption strategies, designed almost exclusively by local officials, are critical for residents to overcome their respective hurdles and benefit from digital citizenship. 

Federal policy operates on the assumption that states and municipalities have the resources to launch and maintain broadband adoption programs wherever infrastructure is available. During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, communities, educational institutions, philanthropic partners, and private sector allies were forced to challenge this assumption. Community-level partnerships were subsequently created to provide service and devices for residents in need. Stil, local governments must work with local organizations to help support digital literacy programs. Making technical support and digital literacy resources accessible to populations in need, including seniors and people with disabilities, is the only way to ensure equal access to the internet.

Like water and electric systems, access to high-speed connectivity affects the quality of life for residents. Recognizing the breadth of its impact, from education to employment to healthcare, NCC advocates for local officials to be able to use broadband funding for access and adoption instead of one or the other. Our work illuminates the many reasons why some communities have been left offline in addition to what programs and policy proposals can help accelerate access to high-speed connectivity. 

"Often when someone thinks of connectivity they think of access to the connections that make broadband avalible to out homes. What they fail to realize is there is so much more to it than that. We need to ask ourselves, is that connection affordable and do residents have meaningful access and knowledge to user Internet connected devices to meet their needs? If not, what can we do to help them gain that knowledge or afford the devices or connections they may need?"
Ryan Johnston
Policy Counsel, Federal Programs

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