FCC Releases Top Five Barriers To Broadband

According to a request for comment issued Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission has tentatively concluded that there are five chief barriers to broadband adoption.

The FCC listed the following as impediments: "Affordability of service, affordability of hardware, insufficient digital and technical literacy levels, unawareness of the personal relevance and utility of broadband technology and online content and an inability to use existing technology and applications due to physical or mental disabilities."

The agency has given the public and industry until Dec. 2 to weigh in on how it should measure and quantify broadband adoption and identify barriers to more widespread use. The FCC has some 50 questions it wants answers to.

That request for comment, issued Wednesday afternoon, is part of an effort to boost the U.S.'s 63% home adoption rate --lower for some demos including minorities-- which, in turn is part of the broader national broadband plan due to Congress Feb. 17.

That plan requires the commission to produce a "detailed strategy" for maximum use of infrastructure and services.

The commission is asking a host of questions, including whether someone who accesses broadband at work or in a library, or has a broadband-enabled smart phone an "adopter," or whether adoption should be measured more by the type or frequency of use of certain applications.

It also wants input on the costs of "digital exclusion," both to those not adopting and to society at large.

Proposed ways to overcome barriers and close that exclusionary digital divide, according to the commission, include looking at the effect of bundled service on affordability and the potential effect of a government subsidy for computer purchases.

Other possibilities: digital literacy programs and a government outreach program using multiple media.