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Indiana Voters Ages 50+ Weigh in on High-Speed Internet

Access to high-speed internet (also known as “broadband”) can significantly improve quality of life for people of all ages and can help older adults live independently. The technology, faster and more reliable than now-antiquated dial-up service, can reduce the risk of social isolation by facilitating connections with family and friends, provide access to important supportive services (including online health care) that may not be locally available, promote learning by offering access to information on an unlimited number of topics, and offer a host of other benefits.

spinner image Daughter assisting her elderly mother with a telehealth video call with a doctor

Yet, not everyone has access to high-speed internet. It can depend on where you live, with rural areas being among the most underserved by this life-transforming technology. Just how big of an issue is this to older voters, and what should be done to level the playing field? AARP recently surveyed Indiana voters ages 50 and older concerning their internet use and how they felt about ways to extend broadband coverage to underserved areas of the state.

The survey found that 8 in 10 voters ages 50+ in Indiana use the internet, with the majority of internet users (93%) using it from home. A solid majority of older voters (67%) go online at least once a day. 

However, 28% of internet users say that, in the past year, the quality of internet service has limited their home online use, and 14% say cost has limited their use. Those who live in rural areas were more likely to encounter problems with the quality—40% of rural internet users compared to 24% of nonrural users. Cost was a limitation for 18% of rural users and 13% of those living in nonrural areas.

When asked to rate their support for various methods of expanding access to high-speed internet service, nearly 8 in 10 (78%) Indiana voters ages 50+ say they “strongly” or “somewhat” support state action to offer incentives to internet providers to expand service to rural areas not currently served. Just as many (79%) support expanding the number of rural electric cooperatives that offer high-speed internet to customers in their service area. Perhaps not surprisingly, rural respondents were more apt to support the electric co-op solution "strongly" (53%) compared to nonrural respondents (45%).

About two-thirds of Indiana voters ages 50+ strongly or somewhat support the use of state funds to bring affordable, high-speed internet to all areas of the state, as the Indiana governor has proposed, via $100 million in grants for local communities. 

The survey showed a geographic divide in the type of service used. Of those home internet users ages 50+ who live in rural areas, 31% use cable for their home internet connection, versus 51% of nonrural residents. Another 30% of home internet users in rural areas use DSL and 16% use satellite, while 20% of those in non-rural areas use DSL and only 5% use satellite.

The AARP survey of 1,003 Indiana registered voters ages 50+ was conducted December 17, 2018 through December 30, 2018 by phone, including 40% by mobile phone. The survey included an oversample of 400 rural respondents and the data were weighted by age, gender, race/ethnicity, income, and education.

For more information, contact S. Kathi Brown of AARP Research at Media inquiries should be directed to Jason Tomcsi at the AARP Indiana state office at