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BizReport : Internet : February 23, 2010

FCC profiles Americans least likely to go online

I know it's hard for some of you to comprehend, but there are those out there in the U.S. that don't use the Internet or have broadband connections. Once you've picked yourself up off the floor, take a look at the profiles the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is using to illustrate who these "digitally distant" and "digitally uncomfortable" folk are.

by Helen Leggatt

FCC logo.gifAccording to the FCC's survey (.pdf), conducted in November last year, 78% of U.S. adults are Internet users and 65% are broadband adopters. However, some users are either reticent to hook up to the Internet, lack the knowledge to do so or are financially unable.

To better understand those who are yet to adopt broadband, or indeed the Internet, the FCC has devised four profiles.

Digitally Distant: represents 10% of the general population. This group has the lowest probability of broadband adoption in the future. Not only do they see little point in being online but their lack of computer skills and wariness of online security leads to an attitude of indifference. Of note is that this group has the highest median age - 63 - and the largest number of retirees (45%).

Digital Hopefuls: represents 8% of the general population. This group is the least well-off of all four groups but contains the most members with positive views on being online. Given the resources, and cheap access, most would jump at the chance of broadband. However, nearly a quarter (22%) can't afford a computer and 15% can't afford the monthly access fee. Almost half (49%) have not graduated from high school and 44% live in households with annual incomes of $20,000 or less.

Digitally Uncomfortable: represents 7% of the general population. Most of this group has a computer yet lack the confidence and knowledge to use them effectively. Just a quarter are comfortable using a computer. More than financial help, this group, which has a median age of 55, requires educating in the realms of digital literacy and relevant content. Once achieved, this group stands a reasonable chance of adopting broadband, says the FCC.

Near Converts: represents 10% of the general population. This group is ripe for converting to broadband. Most own, and are comfortable operating, a computer and value the Internet as a learning tool. Many (42%) have already used broadband before. Financial issues are the main barrier to broadband adoption in the home, particularly the monthly access fee. With high levels of academic achievement, this group comprises younger members with incomes in the middle ranges ($40,000 - $75,000).

The survey is unique in that it is the first time the FCC has conducted its own survey of end-users of the Internet.

Tags: Americans, broadband adoption, computer literacy, FCC, Internet use

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