The Geography of Barriers to Broadband Adoption

Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert and William Franko

in Digital Cities

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199812936
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979769 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Digital Politics

The Geography of Barriers to Broadband Adoption

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The reasons why individuals are offline, or barriers to broadband and Internet access at home, vary nationally across urban, suburban and rural America. Cost is one of the most important factors nationally, but especially for low-income residents and minorities. Cost is also a more important reason of being offline in urban areas than in other geographic areas. Even in rural areas, availability as a barrier mainly affects those who are more advantaged—wealthier, more educated, and younger rural residents. Infrastructure initiatives are most likely to benefit those who are already better-off or more Internet-savvy in rural communities, according to national data on barriers. Socioeconomic inequality is a primary cause why Americans lack Internet access. Affordability is an important requirement for achieving universal access and digital citizenship. Nationally, addressing cost is important across places, but it is especially a hurdle in poor urban communities.

Keywords: digital divide; cost; poverty; racial and ethnic minorities; urban; rural; suburban; internet; broadband; public policy

Chapter.  7498 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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