The National Telecommunications Information Administration (“NTIA”) in conjunction with the Census Bureau periodically administers, as a supplement to the Current Population Survey, the Internet Use Survey. This survey is an important resource to inform digital inclusion strategies and other internet-related public policy challenges. NTIA has asked for comment as to how it can improve the questionnaire. 

On September 17, 2020 Next Century Cities signed on to comments authored by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and Public Knowledge highlighting the following points:

  • The Survey should include questions regarding how households are using their connections during the pandemic. Including the number of devices used, for what length of time, and what difficulties have been experienced since the beginning of the pandemic. 
  • Price is often a large reason consumers do not subscribe to home internet, the NTIA should include questions asking at what price a household can afford broadband to better understand the relationship between price and adoption. This could lead to the creation of policies that will make broadband affordable for all. 
  • NTIA should ask questions that highlight how internet connections are suiting household needs, which will give policymakers and advocates a better understanding of the broadband landscape. 
  • The experimental use of an open and close ended response to the same question may lead to understanding whether the type of question asked affects the answer provided.

If NTIA incorporates these changes, it will cast a more realistic picture of the connectivity challenges that households face during this ongoing pandemic. The findings could also help local, state, and federal officials to understand persistent broadband adoption obstacles in communities across the nation. Ultimately, this data collection helps policymakers, advocates, and especially local officials to craft solutions that makes broadband accessible and affordable to all.

Read the joint filing here.