Source: Information Economics and Policy (2007)
Keywords: digital divide
; broadband adoption
; telecommunications policy
We explore how broadband access drives changes in the quantity and diversity of consumption of online content by using panel data that describes household Internet usage before and after broadband adoption. Our data suggests that on average, broadband adoption increases usage by over 1300 minutes per month. We also find that information consumption becomes more evenly distributed within the population, driven in part by post-adoption usage gains of almost 1800 minutes per month among individuals who were in the lowest usage quintile before adopting broadband. After adopting broadband, this pre-adoption lowest-usage quintile consumes content in greater quantities than users in neighboring quintiles, passing both the second and third quintiles in terms of absolute usage. This suggests that these users may have had strong preferences for high-bandwidth content that was too costly to consume in a narrowband environment. We also show that broadband adoption increases the variety of content that users consume although many of these gains appear to be associated with an increase in the variety of sites visited within previously visited content categories rather than an expansion in the types of content consumed.