The California Emerging Technology Fund has published the 2018 Digital Divide Follow-up Survey. The survey was conducted by Davis Research who re-interviewed a subset of Californians participating in the 2017 Annual Survey. The survey finds many low-income Californians cannot afford broadband at home and are not aware that discount options exist. The survey also found that many Californians’ access to the Internet changes year-to-year, in part due to the cost.
Among the critical findings:
In 2017, the survey found 31% of Californians are “unconnected” or “under-connected”—they have no access at all (13%) or only access the Internet at home through a mobile phone (18%). Californians’ access to home Internet fluctuates from year-to-year as some residents who were previously unconnected or under-connected migrate up to computer access, while others who formerly had computer access migrate down. “This churn is most likely the result of changing economic circumstances affecting the state’s householders,” said Mark DiCamillo, who directed both the follow-up survey for Davis Research and the CETF 2017 broadband study. Among those currently unconnected or under-connected to the Internet at home, 82% say fully connected service is “too expensive” for them.
In addition to lack of affordability, the survey reveals there is low awareness of discount Internet service options that most major ISPs in California make available to eligible low-income households. Of households most likely to qualify, 72 percent have never heard of these offers. To learn about low-cost, affordable Internet programs in your area visit:
Low-income households with no Internet access or a mobile phone-only connection tell us they are at a disadvantage when accessing online benefits and services. According to households re-interviewed in 2018, they are at a disadvantage to: learn about or get access to government services (51%), do job searches and apply for work online (50%), assist their children’s education (45%), get health and medical information or communicate with a doctor (45%) and gain new career skills through online classes or training (43%).
It is embarrassing that in a state known as the world’s innovator, almost a third of the residents continue to be disenfranchised from taking full advantage of online educational, healthcare, job and civic engagement opportunities, and even public services.
Full Survey is HERE
It is more than embarrassing; it is the tragedy of failed leadership in Sacramento. Other states and counties with fewer resources than California have solved the problem and provided the critical infrastructure, just like water, power, transportation infrastructure and waste management. The tragedy is that we can spend billions on high-speed rail to nowhere, and billions to control climate change which is a natural cycle all while denying Californias’ access to critical communications infrastructure.