New poll shows West Virginia opinions on broadband issues

A recent study conducted on behalf of West Virginia for Broadband examines the perspective of the state’s residents on a number of issues. The poll found 85 percent of West Virginians have Internet services in their homes and three out of four of those with service said their internet speed currently meets their needs.

Additionally, only one out of five said they were not happy with their current Internet service, even among those who work from home.

The study shows respondents use the Internet regularly and for various reasons. 87 percent say they use the Internet daily or more often, while 79 percent use the Internet to shop and 62 percent pay bills or conduct online banking. Almost half of those polled said that they use the Internet for online entertainment sites like Hulu, and Netflix to stream shows or movies. Of that number, 51 percent were between the age of 18 and 34.

Mostly though, respondents use the Internet for communication purposes. Seventy-eight percent of West Virginians with Internet service in their homes use social media such as, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Additionally, 86 percent used the Internet for email. Seventy percent of those polled said someone in their household has a smartphone – such as an Android or iPhone. Of those, nearly 90 percent of participants use a data or Internet plan for their devices.

A majority of West Virginians, 57 percent, stated they do not feel the Internet is an essential utility such as water, or electricity. Meanwhile, 63 percent of West Virginians are unsure what the “max” download speed delivered by their respective provider is.

Regarding current policy issues, 71 percent are against adding sales tax to telephone servicesas a new source of revenue for the state. Also, construction of the so-called “middle mile,” a section of Internet infrastructure estimated to cost $75 million and would then only be used by some Internet providers, was overwhelmingly rejected. 63 percent of those polled stated they would not wish for their legislator to support it.

Finally, when asked about the reasons West Virginia’s economy currently lags behind the rest of the nation, less than 2 percent felt the state’s lack of broadband Internet connectivity was a contributing factor – instead pointing to the state’s lack of economic diversity, workforce education, aging population, highways and other issues.

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