Saturday, 22 October 2011

Canadian internet use

Canadian internet use

Statistics Canada released an interesting variant on its Internet Use Survey yesterday. Unlike its release from May which examined household use, yesterday’s numbers provide an indicator for individual usage for Canadians aged 16 and older. Both reports are for the same period.
Many of the stories I read focused on the regional differences in internet adoption – a phenomenon we have explored before for internet [such as here] and for mobile services.

There are subtle differences between the individual and household data that raised some interesting questions for me. For instance, in May we learned that 97% of households in the top income quartile had internet access, but yesterday we learned that only 94% of individuals in that quartile use the internet. On the other hand, 59% of individuals in the lowest income quartile use the internet, despite only 54% of the households having access. What is causing these discrepancies? Fewer individuals per household are on-line in upper income homes; the opposite in lower income households.
For the non-users, I like to read the excuses with a critical eye:
A majority of non-users (62%) said they did not use the Internet because they had no need or interest, did not find it useful, or did not have time. Over one-fifth (22%) mentioned a lack of skills or training, or that they found the Internet or computers too difficult to use. Limited access to a computer (12%), cost of service or equipment (9%) or age (9%) were other reasons cited for not going online.
In my view, almost all of these are euphemisms for “it’s the money.”
Yesterday’s report indicated that 88% of individuals in Halifax are online, versus 79% of Nova Scotia as a whole. Since the Halifax Census Metropolitan Area represents about 40% of the province, this means that the rest of the province has only about 73% of individuals using the internet. Why?
It is always important to look at the data and ask lots of questions. How do we increase adoption across geographies, ages, incomes, education and other demographic factors?

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