Some "Digital Inclusion" Policies Will Fail

“Digital inclusion” has some elements that service providers and governments can affect. But there are many parts of the “digital inclusion gap” that are the result of rational end user choices (even if we disagree with the choices).

The other notable caveat is that reluctance to buy fixed network high speed access often is a choice made because other more satisfying or relevant choices are seen as available.

As some consumers choose not to buy fixed network voice because they can use mobile, or do not buy linear video services because they can buy Netflix or watch YouTube, so some consumers choose not to buy fixed network high speed access.

That is important because such “choices” are just that, and not evidence of some failure on the part of governments or service providers.

Since those are consumer choices, no amount of effort to stimulate usage--education campaigns, marketing or the like--is going to move consumers to act. They do not wish to buy.

In the United Kingdom, for example, 15 percent of adults did not have household access to the internet in the first quarter of 2015.

About 44 percent off the adults without home broadband did not think they needed it, while 22 percent said they did not want to own a computer.

About 21 percent found the retail cost too high. Another 20 percent of non-adopters said that they were “too old” to use the internet. About  17 percent did not believe that they had the knowledge or skills to use it.

That said, most households--85 percent--do buy fixed network broadband. About 12 percent of homes rather firmly do not wish to buy. Over half of non-users do not think there any advantages to their being online.



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