WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — In a post COVID-19 world, reliable and affordable home internet access is a “must have” instead of a “can have.” As the pandemic unfolded, communities, residents and businesses across Indiana scrambled to interact almost entirely online, increasing the awareness of how important it is to have access to adequate and affordable broadband technology at home.
The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) in partnership with Purdue Extension, the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), and multiple local and regional organizations completed 16,200 broadband home surveys in mostly rural Indiana to assess the quality and affordability of home internet access.
Bartholomew County Commissioner, Tony London, commented, “As a dyed in the wool Champion of Rural Broadband, I am thrilled to see all the responses to this survey, but at the same time, all those responses reinforce what we all know … that high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity!”
The main objective of the survey was to provide community leaders and residents with additional data regarding broadband connectivity in their communities to increase awareness of their digital landscape, jumpstart meaningful conversations, and plan accordingly. The survey captured data around the several themes: 1) home internet adoption, technologies, cost, willingness to pay, and reasons for not subscribing at home; 2) quality of service measured through speed tests and satisfaction levels; and 3) characteristics that drive adoption, such as home businesses, remote work or children in the household.
The data presented in the report were captured from a series of home broadband surveys conducted mostly online in 2019 through mid-2021. The survey was initially designed and implemented as part of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ (OCRA) Broadband Planning program launched in 2018. However, through word-of-mouth and other information channels, PCRD was asked to conduct similar surveys in various other sites in the state.
Survey results showed that 88.3% of respondents subscribed to the internet at home. However, more than half were unsatisfied with their service mostly due to their connections being too slow or unreliable. The study also discusses a series of key insights to better address the digital divide in Indiana.
“Broadband is an evolving issue,” said Roberto Gallardo, PCRD director. “Access has been a priority for many years, but now quality and affordable service, even in areas that already have access, is equally important to address. Fortunately, there will be a significant amount of federal funds to invest to address this issue.”
The full report is available online.
— Purdue Center for Regional Development