Don’t Just Survey, ENGAGE: The Key to Planning, Funding & Executing Broadband Accessibility & Adoption

The Vizbii team set out to help national broadband leaders at the South Carolina Broadband Office (SCBBO) to deliver better internet for all South Carolina residents and organizations by collaborating with over 25 organizations (EY, USC, Clemson, Commission for Minority Affairs, SC Institutes of Innovation & Information, and many more). Understanding barriers to Access & Adoption requires color and context. With that in mind, there were 2 fundamental goals from the start:

  1. Hear from residents and business leaders in Under/Unserved communities (Residents who have insufficient or no internet options); and,
  2. Provide an authentic means for South Carolinians to express the Emotional Impact that current options for internet (or lack thereof) have on their daily lives and their ability to conduct business.

Responses came from residents in every zip code, driving a total of 10,283 completed surveys. Businesses and organizations were also eager to participate, completing 334 surveys. Across both surveys, completion rates exceeded 70%.

The insights gathered will be foundational to SC’s Broadband Equity Access & Deployment {BEAD) 5-year plan—an effort to strengthen and diversify opportunities for South Carolinians through better internet connectivity.

Key factors to this success include:

  1. Incredible marketing by Riggs Partners;
  2. Vizbii’s intentional survey design that continuously engaged participants using emotion-based technology (Morphii®) to boost completion rates;
  3. Dogged pursuit of responses by local organizations entrenched in communities across the state to do the work of GetConnectedSC

>70%

Completion Rates Across Resident and Business/Organization Surveys

Reaching the Target Audience (Under/Unserved):

48%

Of Residents who completed a survey are Under/Unserved

47%

Of Businesses & Organizations who completed a survey are Under/Unserved

Connectivity drives opportunity. More often than not, employers are requiring that staff have speedy and reliable access to internet even when they’re not on-site. This trend is certain to persist; and, for residents who are Under/Unserved, career options and opportunities will become more limited unless their access to quality internet improves.

64%

Of organizations require employees to have internet access off-site
The Connectivity Divide

87%

Of residents who reported restricted career options OR opportunities for professional development are Under/Unserved

Approach & Key Stats from the Residential Survey

In order to maximize accessibility to the survey for the Under/Unserved, we deployed and distributed both digital and paper surveys in English and Spanish.

In addition to supplying surveys for in-person events, we also provided an IVR system for requesting/delivering paper surveys.

Survey design focused on capturing barriers to high-speed internet access and adoption whether related to geography, cost, device/service accessibility, or otherwise.

Additional attention was paid to how the lack of internet influences the healthcare system, economic stability, education, food, community & social contexts, and physical environment.

Intensity of Stress Regarding Options Across the State of SC

52%

Express “Negative” feelings (Frustrated or Stressed) about options for internet. Negative feelings are also felt intensely with an average intensity above 70%); Notably, Hispanic/Latino respondents report stress at higher frequencies than other races/ethnic groups

61%

Of Residents who indicate they are running a business or farm from their home are Under/Unserved

62%

Of the Under/Unserved are from rural communities

61%

Reported Cost and/or Lack of Available ISP Provider as most significant barriers to getting Internet (Online safety and/or lack of confidence using the Internet were barriers for less than 3% of respondents, respectively)

Critical Needs: Based on evidence and field work preceding this study, we anticipated Pre K - 12 education to be the area with the most critical need; however, accessing healthcare services and working from home presented more need than previously identified.

87%

Who report restricted career options OR opportunities for professional development are Under/Unserved when it comes to internet

70%

Of those who identified healthcare services as a critical need driver for internet also experience challenges with mobility or transportation and are currently Under/Unserved; 60% seeking VA healthcare services are currently Under/Unserved

51%

Of those that report being nervous about their child(ren)'s success in school live also report living in a rural community

Approach & Key Stats from the Residential Survey

Design for the Business & Organization survey focused on how insufficient or lacking internet impacts Traditional Businesses, Farms, Community Anchor Institutions, Healthcare Service Providers, and Public Services across the state.

We heard from organizations across 42 of SC’s 46 counties, and captured barriers to high-speed internet access and adoption whether related to geography, cost, device/service accessibility, as well as skilled labor, IT Support structure, funding, and more.

Given your organization's current access to the internet, how do you feel about its ability to grow and compete?

67%

Under/Unserved Business & Organization respondents also reported spotty or unstable cell service

31%

Report an Insufficient Internet Connection and Express “Negative” feelings (Skeptical or Concerned) about their ability to grow their business and compete in their market. Over 1/3rd of these organizations had High to Very High Intensity feelings

42%

Of Internet decision makers expressed Frustration or Concern about the cost of Internet at their organization

3x

Traditional Businesses are more likely to have established IT Support (Contracted or On Staff) than Farms/Agribusinesses, despite having similar rations of Sufficient to Insufficient Internet.

61%

Of reporting Farms/Agribusinesses are not using Precision Farm Tech. The top 3 barriers to adoption reported are:

  1. The expense of new tech/equipment
  2. Lack of interest
  3. Lack of dependable internet throughout the farm/location

Armed with unprecedented federal funding for Broadband Internet and targeted insights to bolster the state’s 5-Year Plan, strategic infrastructure is sure to improve the lives and livelihoods of all South Carolinians.