The Geography of Barriers to Broadband Adoption

Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, William Franko

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


The reasons why individuals are offline, or barriers to broadband and Internet access at home, vary nationally across urban, suburban and rural America. Cost is one of the most important factors nationally, but especially for low-income residents and minorities. Cost is also a more important reason of being offline in urban areas than in other geographic areas. Even in rural areas, availability as a barrier mainly affects those who are more advantaged-wealthier, more educated, and younger rural residents. Infrastructure initiatives are most likely to benefit those who are already better-off or more Internetsavvy in rural communities, according to national data on barriers. Socioeconomic inequality is a primary cause why Americans lack Internet access. Affordability is an important requirement for achieving universal access and digital citizenship. Nationally, addressing cost is important across places, but it is especially a hurdle in poor urban communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDigital Cities
Subtitle of host publicationThe Internet and the Geography of Opportunity
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199979769
ISBN (Print)9780199812936
StatePublished - Jan 24 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Broadband
  • Cost
  • Digital divide
  • Internet
  • Poverty
  • Public policy
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Rural
  • Suburban
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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