Finally, there are the uncertainties relating to what people want and will do. Assimilation of these changes, of course, presumes assuring that the use of these capabilities is perceived as valuable (appealing and relevant) to multiple categories of people. Historically, with television, which was fundamentally familiar, the introduction of pay-TV programming led to consumers often electing to buy multiple services, which are differentiated. The new, nonincremental and interacting broadband options are less familiar than were variations on the TV theme. There is some evidence that willingness to pay increases with consumer control: in the committee’s June 2000 workshop, for example, AT&T researcher Andrew Odlyzko compared people’s willingness to pay $40 per month for cable for 100 Mbps consumed 3 hours per day with $70 per month for wireline phone for 64 kbps used 1 hour per day with $40 to $50 per month for wireless phone for 8 kbps used less than 10 minutes per day. This line of argument complements that of consumer advocates and others who argue for open access (see Chapter 5 in this report), as a counter to a fear that content coming into the home will be overly controlled by commercial providers. It is not surprising that local efforts that link deployment to economic development tend to feature awareness and training programs,34 while various nonprofit and entrepreneurial efforts seek to generate content that is of interest to specific demographic groups. Recognizing that socioeconomic context affects willingness and ability to use new technology does not necessarily make it easier to devise effective strategies, and trial and error is evident.

34  

Glasgow, Kentucky, was a pioneer in providing broadband, but the experience showed slow adoption and uncertainty about why the capability should be used, necessitating efforts to generate awareness, interest, and use. See Anick Jesdanum. 2000. “Wiring Rural America: Just the Beginning.” Associated Press, September 6. Available online at <http://www.msnbc.com:80/news/452691.asp?cp1=1>.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement