The Growth in 'Underconnected' Californians Should Alarm Us
San Jose Mercury News
By Michelle Quinn | August 1, 2016
At first glance, the latest data on California's digital divide looks like amazingly good news.
A whopping 84 percent of Californians now have access to broadband internet at home, up 9 percentage points since 2014, according to a new Field Poll.
At that rate, the digital divide -- the gulf between the information haves and have nots -- could be wiped out in less than three years.
But most of those gains have come from increased smartphone use. In the past year alone, there's been a near doubling -- from 8 percent to 14 percent -- of state residents now online because of smartphones. Meanwhile, the percentage of Californians connecting to the internet via a laptop or a desktop has remained flat for several years.
"That is the biggest problem," said Mark DiCamillo, director of The Field Poll, which conducted the survey for the California Emerging Technology Fund, a nonprofit focused on broadband deployment and adoption.