The Connected Nation Blog: May 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Report Shows Mobile Broadband Use is Higher Among Hispanics

By Travis Lane, Research Analyst for Connected Nation

According to a report released last week by The Hispanic Institute, Hispanic Americans are increasingly investing in mobile broadband technology as a tool for communication, education, and social action. This echoes our previous research indicating that mobile broadband adoption is growing faster than “fixed” broadband adoption among Hispanic Americans; in fact,
9% of Hispanic adults living in states and territories served by Connected Nation subscribe to mobile broadband while eschewing home broadband service.

What are the main factors that lead some people to rely on mobile broadband as their only access to the Internet? Among Hispanic adults who access mobile broadband but don’t subscribe to home broadband, the lack of a home computer is the top barrier to home broadband adoption.

Expense is another top barrier to home broadband adoption. Hispanic adults surveyed by Connected Nation reported an average monthly broadband cost of $41.87 and an annual median household income of $29,230. If you do the math, this means that among Hispanic adults, the cost of a broadband subscription represents nearly 2% of the median annual household income, a higher percentage than any other ethnic group surveyed by Connected Nation. This suggests that the digital divide for Hispanic Americans will persist unless an effort is made not only to help overcome cost barriers, but also to show the advantages that home broadband service offers that cannot be accessed via a smartphone.

Stay tuned as Connected Nation continues to explore the growth of mobile broadband adoption.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Every Citizen Online Program Helping Ohio Small Businesses Get Online

By Amanda Murphy, Public Relations Specialist, Connect Ohio

Connect Ohio’s Every Citizen Online (ECO) program helps Ohioans learn basic computer and Internet skills for free at local organizations. Not only is the ECO program helping citizens of Ohio feel comfortable using a computer, but the program is also helping small business owners get connected, creating additional growth and outreach opportunities.

Stephen Morozowsky completed ECO training at John McIntire Public Library in March. Morozowsky is the owner of Mantis Kung Fu Taiji Academy in Zanesville, where he teaches martial arts to area youth and senior citizens.

“The (ECO) class opened up knowledge of the computer and the Internet for me,” said Morozowsky. “Now, I communicate with my students through e-mail. I also order my business supplies online. I can shop and compare prices, which I hadn’t been able to do before. It’s a great added convenience.”

Pat Homier is also a small business owner who now communicates with customers by e-mail after completing ECO training.

Homier has owned Touches of Drapery in New Bavaria for 43 years. She recently received ECO training at the Putnam County Educational Service Center.

“This (ECO class) was a God-send,” Homier shared. “I only somewhat used the computer and Internet before, but now I’m able to use it better and for many things.”

Homier mentioned a few tasks she is now able to use her new knowledge toward, including business document formatting, connecting with other businesses online, paying bills online, and researching marketing ideas. She says she looks forward to soon marketing her business online in order to reach a new generation of customers.

Anthony Wilcox, in Columbus, is creating a start-up company. He knew creating a new clothing label would be difficult without utilizing the Internet. Wilcox received ECO training at the Godman Guild through the OSU Learning Center.

“(The Internet) is new and exciting for me,” said Wilcox. “I’m contacting business investors online and creating professional presentations on the computer.”

Wilcox said the training was just what he was looking for.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Small Businesses Lead the Pack in Allowing Teleworking

By Sarah Graham, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

As the nation marks the 48th annual National Small Business Week, new Connected Nation research shows that small businesses are leading the way in empowering their employees, particularly by allowing them to telework.

Last week, Connected Nation launched its Broadband and Business study, which examines how businesses of all sizes across 11 states and Puerto Rico use broadband. In a survey of more than 9,600 businesses, Connected Nation found that 27% of small businesses (businesses with one to four employees) allow their employees to telework. Among businesses with five or more employees, 19% allow their employees to telework.

In addition to examining which businesses allow telework, we have also looked at which states’ businesses take advantage of teleworking.

On average, 16 percent of employed adults in Connected Nation states telework, or work from home during normal business hours instead of commuting. Minnesota has the highest percentage of employed adults who telework (20%), while only 4% of employed adults living in Puerto Rico telework.

These numbers show that teleworking is a vital work option for many American workers and businesses alike. The telework option can help all sectors maintain their place in the American workforce.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the success stories of small businesses in our states.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Broadband Readiness Index: CliffsNotes to the National Broadband Map

By Raquel Noriega, Director, Public Policy, Connected Nation

This week at the Telecommunications Industry Association’s 2011 Inside the Network conference in Dallas, Connected Nation released the Broadband Readiness Index, a new tool that translates the vast, multi-layers of data in the National Broadband Map into a transparent, easy-to-use means to benchmark how prepared communities are to meet goals set by the National Broadband Plan and the President’s Wireless Innovation Initiative. This information will help community leaders and state policy makers better understand their broadband challenges and trigger meaningful strategies to address them.

The Broadband Readiness Index is applicable to the supply-side or network challenge, one of three core challenges facing each community: network capacity, technology adoption at the home and place of business, and usage of applications and online solutions in schools, libraries, health centers, public safety, courts and local administration agencies, and across the community ecosystem. Understanding all three of these prongs is necessary to understand a community’s strengths and weaknesses in an online world.

The Broadband Readiness Index addresses the first of these three components and is based on National Broadband Map data from fall 2010. Fall and spring updates to the Broadband Readiness Index will take place twice a year following NTIA’s updates to the National Broadband Map.

Connected Nation works with the NTIA and partners in 11 states and Puerto Rico to collect, integrate, and validate the underlying broadband inventory information that informs these maps. As such, CN fully understands the relevance and power of the National Broadband Map, as well as its complexity. Connected Nation has been working with such data since 2004, when we produced the first statewide, granular broadband map in Kentucky. CN commends the diligence and creativity of the NTIA and the FCC’s GIS team who charged through more than 25 million data records to produce the nation’s first interactive broadband map. Compiling the many layers of information that are available to the public in a user-friendly format is nothing short of a remarkable feat, which CN is proud to be involved with.

Yet, for those unfamiliar with the data layers available through the National Broadband Map, extracting information for pragmatic policy development can be a taxing process. The technical nature and sheer volume of the data can be a challenge for local leaders and state policy makers who seek to build pragmatic policies to help push broadband and the new economy forward. Lacking expertise in broadband technology and trends, many of them are asking basic questions such as: “What is the relevant metric? Is it 768 download speed and 200 upload speed Kbps? 3 Meg? 100 Meg? What is a Meg anyway?” And, “OK, so we have got 93% of households connected at basic broadband speeds in our county, how does that compare with the rest of the nation? Is that enough? Will our community lag behind in the coming years if we are not able to attract investment in speeds of 10, 25, or 50 Megs?”

The Broadband Readiness Index addresses these questions using county-level data for the nation’s 3,219 counties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, on three network metrics: 100% of households served at 3 Mbps download/ 768 Kbps upload speeds, 98% of households served by mobile service, and 85% of households served by 50 Mbps download speed broadband service. These three metrics are not chosen by CN, they correspond to key national broadband goals set by the White House and the FCC. By incorporating the network inventory data from NTIA with the national benchmarks, each county is then given a grade from A to F for all three metrics, depending on how closely it meets the benchmark. Each county then receives an overall Broadband Readiness Index grade based on the average across the three metrics.

The results of this exercise are revealing to local and national leaders alike. Based on Connected Nation’s Broadband Readiness Index, over two-thirds of all counties containing 91.6% of all households receive a passing grade. These counties are in urban areas with densely compact households, including some of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.: New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Atlanta. By contrast, nearly 32% of counties containing approximately 8.4% of the population receive a failing grade. These areas are sparsely populated (with less than 7.9 households per square mile), indicating network build-out costs are a key challenge in upgrading the network capacity in these areas.

Most communities are ready to meet the national broadband goals for wireline and wireless access at basic speeds, but important challenges remain across the nation. By contrast, many communities across America outright flunk the 50 Mbps capacity challenge. In the fall of 2010 a majority of counties – almost three fourths of all U.S. counties with 45% of the nation’s households – have no access to the advanced technology of 50 Mbps.

For further results and more information on Connected Nation’s Broadband Readiness Index, see

Small Business Adoption Gap Could Mean Billions in Untapped Revenue

By Wes Swietek
Communications QA Specialist, Connected Nation

As the nation marks the 48th annual National Small Business Week, new research by Connected Nation shows that more than one million small businesses are not using broadband, leading to the potential loss of billions in additional revenue

Connected Nation’s recently released Broadband & Business report, produced by surveying more than 9,600 businesses across 12 states and territories served by Connected Nation, shows that only 68% of small businesses use broadband. Small businesses are classified as those with one to four employees. That 32% non-adoption gap indicates that approximately 1.3 million small businesses still do not use broadband. By contrast, 83% of surveyed businesses with 50 or more employees use broadband.

The report also reveals that small businesses that use broadband earn average annual revenues of $336,000 and small businesses that don’t use broadband earn an average of $283,000. That $50,000-plus difference means that those 1.3 million businesses are losing out on a potential $65 billion in revenue per year.

Later this week, we’ll be spotlighting some small businesses that have tapped into the revenue stream offered by broadband and tell you how they did it.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An Estimated 1.3 Million Small Businesses Do Not Use Broadband

By Dev Joshi, Travis Lane, and John Walker, Research Analysts for Connected Nation

This week marks the 48th annual National Small Business Week that recognizes the valuable contributions by small businesses across the United States. Small businesses have always been an essential part of the United States’ growth and development, and in today’s economy, small businesses can provide the entrepreneurial leadership that America needs.

Connected Nation research shows that a lot of small businesses are not taking advantage of the benefits that broadband represents. Across the states and territories that Connected Nation serves, only 68% of small businesses with fewer than five employees use broadband, ranging from 55% of small businesses in Tennessee to nearly three out of four small businesses (72%) in Texas and Nevada.

If these percentages are applied to all businesses of this size across the United States, that would mean that approximately 1.3 million small businesses do not use broadband to advertise their products, streamline their work processes, or empower employees to telework.

Almost one-half of the small businesses that do not use broadband service (49%, representing approximately 193,000 small businesses in states and territories served by Connected Nation) said they don’t need broadband or the Internet, while 14% mentioned the lack of a computer as a barrier.

Our research shows that small businesses are missing out on an excellent return on their investment when they do not use broadband. Across states and territories served by Connected Nation, businesses with fewer than five employees pay a median monthly cost of $62.25 for broadband service and earn average annual revenues that are $50,000 higher than small businesses that do not use broadband.

Over the next few days we will continue to look at how small businesses use broadband to increase revenues, as well as specific ways (like teleworking) that small businesses are using broadband to increase their productivity.

Connected Nation CEO Participating in Malaysian Advisory Council Meeting

Malaysia Prime Minister Yang Amat Berhormat Najib Razak is today convening the inaugural meeting of the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council for Malaysia (GSIAC) during his two-day working visit to the US. Connected Nation CEO Brian Mefford is participating in the GSIAC meeting, which is being held at the New York Academy of Sciences.

GSIAC was formed to help the Malaysian government harness science and technology innovations for economic development.

Mefford, along with other government, education, and corporate technology leaders such as Steve Forbes, is serving a two-year term on the Malaysia International Advisory Panel (IAP). Mefford was a featured panelist at the 12th annual IAP meeting, where he outlined the success of Connected Nation’s public-private partnerships in increasing broadband deployment and adoption.

Find out more about the IAP here, and more about the GSIAC meeting here and here.


FCC Highlights New Initiatives to Enhance Online Security for Small Businesses

The FCC helped kick off National Small Business Week Monday with a roundtable event that brought together leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors to discuss the most effective ways for small businesses to protect themselves from cyber attacks. According to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, “While it is critical to secure the government and large industry from cyber threats, it is vital that cybersecurity for small business be in this equation.”

In response to this need, the FCC unveiled several initiatives at the roundtable event, including:

In addition, the FCC reported that it will be joining the public/private National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), which heads the national Stop. Think. Connect. campaign.

Over one-half of all American business establishments employ fewer than five people (54% of U.S. businesses, or approximately 4.1 million establishments according to the most recent County Business Patterns report by the U.S. Census Bureau), so it’s important for small businesses to have access to cybersecurity resources that can fit within their often-limited budgets. Connected Nation research shows that broadband is a vital tool through which small businesses can streamline their work, find new customers, and become more efficient competitors in today’s global marketplace. According to Connected Nation’s recent Business Technology Assessment, small businesses (those with fewer than five employees) that use broadband earn median annual revenues that are more than $50,000 higher than their competitors that do not use broadband.

Yet concerns about cybersecurity present a barrier to adopting broadband, as 8% of small business establishments in states and territories served by Connected Nation (approximately 32,000 businesses with fewer than five employees) say that concerns about online security risks prevent them from subscribing to broadband.

Stay tuned as we commemorate National Small Business Week by showcasing the impact that broadband technology has on small businesses.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Broadband Key to Higher Business Revenue, but Adoption Lags, According to New Connected Nation Study

Access the Findings
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Businesses with broadband bring in $200K more in median annual revenues, but 2.1 million U.S. businesses remain unconnected

Washington, D.C. — A new study by Connected Nation shows businesses with broadband have a clear advantage in revenue and thus potential job creation over businesses without it. The groundbreaking research, which can be found at, involved surveys of more than 9,600 businesses across a dozen states and territories and shows that businesses using high-speed Internet connections report median annual revenues $200,000 more than businesses without broadband. However, the research estimates that approximately 2.1 million U.S. businesses still do not use broadband technology today.

“While the benefits of broadband technology to businesses are clear, broadband use among different business sectors varies widely in surprising ways,” said Brian Mefford, CEO of Connected Nation. “We estimate that more than one quarter of all business establishments – over two million – do not use broadband today, and adoption rates in some crucial economic sectors like healthcare are significantly lower than average.”

Connected Nation was joined today by representatives from the Telecommunications Industry Association, Communications Workers of America, and Daphne DeLeon, state librarian of Nevada and chair of the Nevada Broadband Task Force, to announce the revelatory findings and call attention to broadband’s critical role in economic development.

“More and more businesses are embracing broadband and technology as ways of growing their sales and revenues and allowing for flexible work schedules in today’s tough economic climate,” said DeLeon.

“TIA believes broadband is a game changer for anyone that uses it,” said Grant Seiffert, president of the Telecommunications Industry Association. “There are unprecedented growth opportunities when businesses use broadband to market their services. What the Connected Nation survey shows is a classic case of the haves and have nots. We have a lot of work to do to bring down that 28% of non-users.”

Connected Nation is a non-profit working to expand broadband access, adoption, and utilization nationwide. To conduct this study, Connected Nation surveyed 9,650 businesses in 11 states and Puerto Rico to explore the technology and adoption choices of local business establishments. Unlike prior research efforts which focused on enterprise-level surveys of corporate headquarters, this approach paints a detailed picture of the business broadband landscape at the local level and will facilitate broadband policy planning in those communities.

The findings demonstrate a significant correlation between high-speed Internet adoption and a business’s bottom line, and provide a groundbreaking overview of business uses of technology. For instance:

• Businesses with high-speed Internet connections report having median annual revenues $200,000 more than businesses without broadband.

• 28% of all businesses – and 32% of small businesses with fewer than five employees – do not use broadband for their daily business needs.

• Only 63% of businesses in the Healthcare sector use broadband, representing a potentially significant loss to the economy in terms of increased healthcare service delivery costs.

• 23% of businesses let employees telework.

• Three out of five businesses that do not subscribe to broadband say that either they do not need broad¬band or they do not know why they don’t subscribe. This is by far the most often-cited barrier to broad¬band adoption, followed by the lack of a computer, perceived security risks, and expense.

“CWA believes that the expansion of robust high-speed wireline and wireless broadband will benefit America’s consumers, workers, businesses, and communities,” said Ken Peres, economist with the Communication Workers of America. "Yet, we need good data to inform policy makers and community leaders in their efforts to expand broadband access, adoption, and use. Connected Nation’s study reveals that we can clearly do better in providing access to millions of businesses. I encourage using this data to address the sectors that are clearly lagging behind.”

Working in partnership with state agencies and numerous public-private partners, Connected Nation has created broadband inventory maps, developed numerous broadband research projects, and prepared detailed broadband planning reports and analyses. Connected Nation was the single largest supplier of data to the milestone National Broadband Map released in February. The data used in the business technology assessment was collected in Nevada, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Alaska, South Carolina, Florida, and the Territory of Puerto Rico.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Connected Nation to Unveil Business Broadband Assessment Wednesday

Broadband is the new economic engine driving the twenty-first century economy. But how are the nation’s businesses using (and not using) broadband?

A new business technology assessment to be unveiled by Connected Nation Wednesday sheds a comprehensive light on the subject for the first time. The study is based on scientific surveys of more than 9,600 businesses across 11 states and Puerto Rico.

The findings of the assessment show the large revenue divide between broadband-connected and non-connected businesses and offer insights regarding:

•Use of websites and their impact on business revenues


•Broadband adoption gaps among industry sectors

•Revenue generated online

•Barriers to broadband adoption

This first-of-its-kind assessment will officially be unveiled at a Wednesday, 10 a.m. EST press conference at the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) D.C. Office and will feature Connected Nation officials and other industry leaders. The press conference will be aired via webinar. To register to participate via webinar click here:

Following the press conference, details from the assessment will be available on the Connected Nation website.


The Social Value of Getting Older Americans On-Line

By Tom Koutsky, Chief Policy Counsel, Connected Nation

Mother's Day is still one of the busiest days of t
he year for traditional telephone companies. For an hour or two last Sunday, millions of younger Americans put down their iPads, logged out of Facebook, and ceased tweeting to call Mom or Grandma over the plain, ordinary telephone network.

It is well-documented that older Americans, especially those 70 and over, are among the least likely to be online. Today, I am honored to speak at the launch of the Get Connected event of Project GOAL (Getting Older
Adults online) in Washington, DC. I have been privileged to work with Debra Berlyn, the executive director of Project GOAL, for longer than either of us would care to admit, and Connected Nation is proud to serve on the Project’s Advisory Committee. I hope that the launch will spark a policy debate on the importance of connecting older Americans to the Internet. Connected Nation's research shows that only 31% of adults age 70 or older subscribe to broadband at home, and both computer, mobile, and Internet use is significantly lower among the elderly.

Click image to enlarge
But does this adoption gap matter? Is there a crying need for real-time “relationship status” updates, or easier methods of sharing photos of grandchildren? Is it really that hard simply to call home?

The adoption gap among older adults does have a
n impact, well beyond the benefits of reading a grandchild’s tweets. Take, for example e-health. Broadband-enabled e-health applications like patient monitoring can save billions of dollars in costs for heart disease and diabetes every year. But older Americans use the Internet for health services at only half the rate as younger Americans. In addition, one study by my former colleagues at the Phoenix Center for Advanced Economic and Public Policy Studies has shown that digitally connected older Americans are significantly less likely to be depressed. Our society could reap significant social welfare gains if we were to improve that 31 percent elderly adoption rate.

So, how can it be done? Perhaps we can start with three simple ideas.

First, digital literacy training -- with a focus not only on basic computer skills but also privacy and security, such as lessons on how to pick a good password. CN is doing such a project in Ohio. Many of us first experienced the Internet through the workplace or school -- but the entire generation of elderly Americans has not had that opportunity. Research shows that broadband adoption is facilitated by trusted intermediary or trainer, so a strategy of recruiting younger Americans to help connect their parents and their grandparents may succeed.

Second, we can reform and be more creative in the federal Lifeline and Link-Up programs. These $1 billion per year programs currently subsidize dialtone service for millions of low-income older Americans. A simple change such as letting low-income families use Lifeline funds to help pay for bundles of voice and broadband service is a simple proposal that could go a long way to connecting older Americans. We also could transform those programs to support broadband directly.

And finally, perhaps we should think about broadband utilization and not simply broadband adoption among older Americans. Medical devices are being invented that will utilize ubiquitous broadband to provide better healthcare at home, particularly for chronic conditions like diabetes in which regular testing and monitoring are important. An older diabetic may never subscribe to broadband, but a ubiquitous broadband network and robust market for broadband-enabled devices and applications can help society reap the benefits of delivering life-saving and cost-effective e-health solutions.

In short, there are a lot reasons to ensure that every person in America utilizes broadband to the greatest extent possible, regardless of age. Getting older adults on-line is about more than sharing photo albums of grandchildren – it is about bringing all parts of our economy and society into the Information Age.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Americans Are Increasingly Disconnecting from Landline Phones in Favor of Mobile Phones

By Travis Lane, Research Analyst, Connected Nation

According to a new report released by The National Center for Health Statistics, Americans are increasingly disconnecting from landline phones and turning to their mobile telephone as their only source of communication.

According to this report, more than one in four American households (26.6%, or approximately 30.5 million households) have chosen to use mobile telephones rather than landline telephones to make and receive calls, an eightfold increase in just six years. The proportion of adults using only mobile phones has grown in all 50 states since 2007, and the data suggests that the growing trend of wireless-only households is not likely to be reversed (in ten states, at least 30 percent of adults rely solely on mobile phones).

Among the quickest to shed traditional landlines and use only mobile telephones are:

• Young people who have already adopted mobile phones and find no value in landlines

• Low-income residents who cannot afford to pay for two separate lines

• Renters, whose mobile lifestyle doesn’t require a traditional landline

According to
Connected Nation’s 2010 Residential Technology Assessments, 81% of adults living in Connected Nation states/territories own a cell phone, and about one in eight of those (13%) do not have a landline telephone connection. Younger adults and low-income households are also less likely to subscribe to a landline telephone: 65% of adults age 18-34 and 71% of adults with annual incomes below $25,000 do not have a land line telephone connection.

This has policy implications as the FCC weighs the benefits of reforming the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Lifeline program and High Cost Fund, which help ensure that low-income and rural residents can afford telephone service. As landline phones become less of a necessity, and the cost of broadband service becomes more affordable, we have to ask whether USF funding can effectively be shifted to support broadband access to low-income households. Simply making broadband less expensive will not ensure that every household adopts broadband, but with one in five adults (20%, or about 5.7 million adults) in Connected Nation states/territories citing cost as a barrier to adoption, it is not an insignificant hurdle to overcome.

Are you one of the “cord-cutters” who has traded in your landline phone for a cell phone? Are you happy with your decision, or do you miss having that landline phone? Tell us at