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New Study by TPI Senior Fellow John Horrigan Examines How Newly Connected Low Income Households Perceive and Use Broadband

New Study by TPI Senior Fellow John Horrigan Examines How Newly Connected Low Income Households Perceive and Use Broadband

In his latest paper, TPI Senior Fellow John Horrigan examines the role access to in-home broadband connectivity plays in shaping people’s attitudes and behaviors. Horrigan conducted a survey of subscribers to Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which provides high-speed internet access to low-income households for $9.95 per month. The data suggest two interrelated effects of the program: an access effect, which increases how much users value the internet by making it easier for them to complete tasks online, and a digital skills effect, in which people gain confidence in how to use the internet.While nearly all of the survey’s respondents reported using the internet prior to having in-home coverage, 81% of those polled said a home connection improved their ability to use the internet “a lot.” Respondents acquired more computing devices, expanded the scope of their online activities, and took a more optimistic view of their future. This effect is larger amongst those who received formal digital skills training. With formal training, 78% of respondents were able to use the internet for schoolwork. 65% felt comfortable looking for medical information online, and 56% were able to apply for jobs. In each case, those without training were far more reluctant to engage in the same activities. Still, only 34% of respondents had received formal instruction.To learn more, the full paper can be found here.

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