Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2016

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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52 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 BROADBAND ADOPTION Broadband Is More Than Infrastructure Communities are developing a wide variety of strategies to tackle the digital divide. By Julia Pulidindi / Advantage Engineers F or local governments that invest in broadband infrastructure, a critical component of success is ensuring that their communities have access to the infrastructure and take advantage of its benefts. Access to high-speed broadband Internet is becoming vital for businesses and economic development, and most cities recognize its importance. Broadband adoption and use, which were once commonly overlooked, are equally important for economic development and are now beginning to get their fair share of attention. When the FCC released the National Broadband Plan in 2009, the key rationales it cited for defcient home Internet access were cost, lack of relevance ("I don't see a need to have Internet at home") and digital illiteracy. Tis has changed since 2009. A December 2015 report from the Pew Research Center, Home Broadband 2015, shows that 69 percent of Americans today believe a lack of broadband at home is a major disadvantage to fnding a job, accessing health care or obtaining other vital information. (In 2010, only 56 percent of Americans believed that not having high-speed Internet at home was a major disadvantage.) Investments in wireless infrastructure and the relative afordability of mobile devices have contributed to increased usage of and demand for Internet services. Use of traditional telephone services is declining, and mobile phones are replacing landlines as households' primary communication means. Tis is indicative of society's growing need for information, speed and reliability in day-to- day communications. However, broadband in the home is still critical to fully realize a community's economic potential. Tough mobile broadband ofers convenience and information that allow users to make better-informed decisions, home Internet is still a necessity. Households are increasingly cutting the cable cord and opting for Internet- only subscriptions. In May 2015, Comcast, the largest U.S. cable provider, reported that its Internet subscribers outnumbered its cable subscribers. Tis is due to the availability of video streaming packages that allow households to easily opt out of cable services without losing access to what they are interested in viewing. As more sports programming becomes available online, research indicates the trend will only increase. Tis phenomenon underscores Internet in the home as an invaluable resource and a game changer in how people make decisions about how they consume information. A desktop or laptop computer with Internet access ofers a better alternative to mobile broadband for such tasks as applying for a job and doing homework. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel recognized this connectivity gap and coined the term "homework gap" to describe a common education obstacle for schoolchildren. Rosenworcel said in a response to an April 2015 Pew Research Center report, "Tere was a time when doing basic schoolwork required no

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