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Why Should Governments Support Broadband Adoption?

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  • Kolko, Jed

Abstract

Governments justify support of Internet diffusion on two grounds: (1) to overcome a persistent digital divide in broadband availability and (2) to facilitate online activities that are socially or economically desirable. This paper assesses both these claims. Using individual-level data from Forrester Research, the analysis finds significantly lower residential broadband adoption in lower-income and lower-density zip codes, controlling for individual characteristics. Further tests show that lower adoption in these areas is evidence of a persistent digital divide in availability. The analysis then assesses how broadband adoption changes individuals’ usage of online activities. Broadband adoption increases individuals’ frequency of researching health information online, but there is no evidence that broadband adoption increases usage of online job sites or online government services. Localities currently considering municipal wireless (Wi-Fi) initiatives should focus on digital divide justifications rather than expecting to raise usage of a wide range of online activities perceived to be socially desirable.

Suggested Citation

  • Kolko, Jed, 2006. "Why Should Governments Support Broadband Adoption?," MPRA Paper 3363, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:3363
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    broadband; Internet; digital divide; online; consumer behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • L96 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Telecommunications
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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