How COVID-19 Impacted U.S. Residential Internet Perceptions

This study analyzes how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered individual perceptions of Internet service providers (ISPs) and Internet importance, reliability, and status as an essential public utility (EPU). The authors found that lower-income, younger, women and racial-ethnic minority participants had lower ISP and Internet reliability perceptions. The pandemic increased the perception of the Internet as an EPU by 15% and access to in-home Information and Communication Technology was significantly related to perceptions of Internet importance and reliability. Significantly, women perceived higher importance of household Internet than men, specifically for education, employment, and telehealth. Additionally, racial-ethnic minorities relied on the Internet for entertainment and education more than white participants. The authors provide recommendations for public utility models of the Internet, Internet-reliant technology adoption campaigns, and policy that targets sociodemographic/geographic barriers to Internet access.

Shifting Perspectives: How COVID-19 and In-Home Information and Communication Technology Impacted US Residential Internet Views