Affordable high-speed internet access is important to an overwhelming majority of New York voters ages 35 and older, according to a new AARP survey, and they call on the governor and the state legislature to bring high-speed internet access to all New Yorkers.
Furthermore, the vast majority of voters say they would be more likely to support a candidate who had helped make affordable high-speed internet available.
The survey also shows widespread use of the internet, including a significant share of voters who report increased home internet use compared to this time last year. However, some voters report that quality, cost, availability, and other issues have limited their home internet use.
In the age of COVID-19 and social distancing, reliable and affordable high-speed internet access is more important than ever. High-speed internet (often referred to as “broadband”) offers access to online information and resources that can improve quality of life for people of all ages and help older adults live independently.
The technology, faster and more reliable than antiquated dial-up service, has the potential to reduce the risk of social isolation by facilitating social connections, provide access to important supportive services (including telehealth) that may not be available locally, promote learning by offering access to virtually unlimited information, and help local businesses grow by serving customers outside their geographical area.
Support for Expanding Access to High-Speed Internet
Nearly nine in ten (87%) voters believe that it is important for the governor and state legislature to bring affordable, high-speed internet to all New Yorkers, regardless of where in the state they live. In fact, more than eight in ten voters, regardless of political affiliation, express this view.
Nearly three in four voters (72%) also say they would be more likely to support a candidate who had helped make affordable high-speed internet available to all New Yorkers.
Home Internet Use on the Rise, but Barriers Limit Home Use for Some
Much of the survey points to widespread reliance on the internet. Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) respondents use the internet, with most (78%) accessing it at least once a day.
In fact, compared to this time last year, nearly half (47%) of voters say that their household’s home internet usage has increased.
Still, quality, cost, and availability limit home internet use for some. Roughly one in four internet users say that their home internet use over the past 12 months has been limited “a great deal” or “moderately” by quality (28%), cost (25%), or availability (26%).
Home internet users are least likely to report connection problems with mobile data plans and fiber. Seven in ten (70%) home internet users report that they do not have a fiber-optic internet connection — typically the fastest service option — at home. Lack of availability and cost are the reasons most commonly cited for not having fiber. More than half (53%) of rural home internet users without fiber identify lack of availability as a “major” reason for not having a fiber connection, compared to about a third (30%) of nonrural home internet users without fiber.
The AARP telephone survey was conducted among 749 registered voters ages 35+ in New York. Sixty-five percent of the respondents were reached on a mobile phone. The survey was administered by Alan Newman Research between September 22 and September 27, 2020.
Brown, S. Kathi. High-Speed Internet: Views of New Yorkers Ages 35+. Washington, DC: AARP Research, October 2020. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00416.001