A non-profit group says a significant “broadband gap” exists in South Carolina.
In the results of a survey released Tuesday, Connect South Carolina says that although most of the state has access to a broadband internet connection, 38 percent of households do not subscribe to it. That is above the national average of 33 percent. Connect South Carolina representative Corey Johns said that while income remains an important factor, the biggest reason people do not use broadband is because they don’t see it as relevant.
The two categories are… “I don’t need broadband” or “I don’t understand the importance.” That’s what we call the “relevant” factor. Clearly, what the research shows is that the relevant factor is the greatest barrier to adoption.
In its telephone survey of 1,200 households, the group found that 42 percent of those who do not have home broadband say they don’t need Internet service or don’t understand the benefits. 35 percent said they don’t own a computer. Nine percent said they use dial-up.
The study found that only 42 percent of rural homes had broadband, even though access was not a major problem. 89 percent of rural households surveyed said broadband was available where they live.
The areas with the least availability were in southern counties such as Allendale, Hampton, and Barnwell. Midlands counties such as Edgefield and Fairfield also had fewer customers. (See map here.)
African-Americans in South Carolina also have disproportinately lower rates of broadband use than they do nationwide. Only 42 percent of African-Americans in South Carolina said they subscribed to a broadband service, compared with 56 percent of African-Americans in the US.
Johns said the study will help companies trying to grow and improve broadband service across the state. He said the next step is to help make broadband more accessible in South Carolina.
What we will constructively be working on in the months and years ahead is to work through folks at the local level to help more South Carolinians understand the benefits of broadband.
The survey found that 84 percent of South Carolinians use the Internet, which is well above the national average of 79 percent.