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Connect Michigan: Over One-Third Of Michigan Residents Lack Broadband

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LANSING — Connect Michigan, the Michigan affiliate of the national broadband access organization Connected Nation, released a survey Monday showing that 39 percent of Michigan residents are still not using broadband at home.

Most notably, the majority of low-income, senior, disabled adult, and African-American households are without broadband at home, leaving them facing an uphill battle in keeping up with essential online resources, job and educational opportunities, and social services.

“The results of the residential broadband survey will allow Michigan stakeholders to have more detailed information available for broadband planning strategies as we move forward,” said Robin Ancona, director of the Telecommunications Division of the Michigan Public Service Commission.

This survey is conducted in support of Connect Michigan’s efforts to close Michigan’s digital gap. The survey explores the main barriers to adoption — cost, digital skills, and relevance — and also provides unique insights into the national broadband landscape.

“These survey results will help develop programs to ensure all Michigan residents have access to and are aware of the benefits of broadband,” said Connect Michigan state program manager Eric Frederick.

The survey reveals that:
* 44 percent of Michiganders living in rural areas do not subscribe to broadband service at home.
* When comparing to the 61 percent of all households that do subscribe, there remain large gaps among key demographics: 65 percent of low-income households, 44 percent hispanic households, 73 percent of seniors, and 55 percent of low-income households without children are without access to this essential tool at home.
* The biggest gap is among low-income seniors. Only 4 percent of low-income seniors subscribe to broadband and only 20 percent have a computer at home.
* The largest barrier to non-adopters is relevance — 27 percent of non-adopters say there isn’t Internet content worth viewing. The second most common barrier cited is that it is too expensive.
* The top reasons Michiganders say they started using broadband is because they realized it was worth the cost or it became available.

These results, and comparisons to many others, are available on Connect Michigan’s new consumer trends widget. This interactive tool gives people the ability to view, share, and download the results. Connect Michigan will use these survey results to target solutions in communities based on the demographic and economic barriers that the surveys indicate are most relevant to those communities.

This release comes on the heels of the FCC’s newly released plans to launch a comprehensive public-private initiative called Connect to Compete, aimed at extending digital literacy training and providing employment assistance to communities. Connect Michigan’s parent organization, Connected Nation, is one of the top strategic advisors in the national initiative.

Connect Michigan’s 2011 residential survey was conducted in the summer of 2011 and includes responses from 2,400 residents. The survey was conducted as part of the State Broadband Initiative grant program, funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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