Public access is the only option for Internet access for many

by , March 27, 2012

Category: Data analysis, Featured, News, Survey

The previous post on findings from the Global Impact Study’s User Profiles working paper discussed that public access ICT venues provide many people with the opportunity to first use computers and particularly the Internet. This finding leads to the question of why people first experience using computers and the Internet at public access venues.

One potential, and logical, reason is that they do not have access to a computer and the Internet at home. Findings from our public access user survey reveal that while many people have computers in their homes, especially in Brazil, Chile, and Ghana, Internet access at home is lacking. Even in Chile, where overall connectivity is high, only 33% of the users surveyed have access to the Internet at home. Brazil users enjoy the highest percentage of Internet access at home, but at 40%, it is less than half of the users we surveyed. Only a quarter of  users in Ghana and the Philippines have Internet, and not even 15% of users in Bangladesh have access at home.

Computer & Internet penetration in user households; Sciadas, G., with Lyons, H., Rothschild, C., & Sey, A. (2012)


With more and more services, like searching for jobs, accessing government programs, and communicating with others, going online, people have more needs that can only be met by having access to computers and the Internet. As the data from our user survey illustrates above, not everyone has access to computers, and particularly the Internet, at home. This data also supports the previous post about where people first access computers and the Internet. If access at home is not available, people need to find an alternative for this access, and for many, that is found at a public access venue.

In our next post on findings from the user survey, we will explore the reasons why those people who do have computer and Internet access at home frequent public access venues. Is it a faster connection? Better equipment? To be with friends? Stay tuned to find out why even those with home access come to public access venues!

Source: Sciadas, G., with Lyons, H., Rothschild, C., & Sey, A. (2012). Public access to ICTs: Sculpting the profile of users. Seattle: Technology & Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School.

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These are project updates made by members of the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington Information School. TASCHA is responsible for the implementation for the Global Impact Study.

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